Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - A Rainy Day in SW19 (Your Call 7.7)
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A Rainy Day in SW19 (Your Call 7.7) 07/07/2008 - 10:50 AM

By Rosangel Valenti, TW Contributing Editor

Good morning. This will act as today's Your Call post, for discussing everything related to tennis. Now that Wimbledon is over, it's again OK to go off-topic in these regular daily posts.

Rafa1 As many of you know, even at a late stage I was considering not attending yesterday's final, and selling on my single debenture ticket, which I bought some time before I knew who would make the final. The purchase was made much in hope, I admit, after being at Queen's Club when Rafael Nadal won his first grasscourt title - and I knew that prices might rocket or availability become a problem if the "dream final" materialised again this year. At the time, I thought of it as insurance - I knew I could sell it on. Debentures are the only legally resaleable tickets to Wimbledon, and there has been coverage in the UK press in the past two weeks regarding the AELTC's determination to stamp down on on illegal resales - many sellers who have advertised in the press have, I understand, been tracked down by the Club, and their tickets have been voided. I imagine that this makes black market ticket purchases more perilous than usual, and it has also had the effect of making debentures an even more valuable commodity. Checking prices for men's finals debenture tickets once the finalists had been confirmed, these little pieces of paper were probably literally worth more than their weight in gold, even though the weather forecast for Sunday had been looking grim all week.

I had been reading too many weather forecasts, and was fearful that, as happened to me one day at Wimbledon last year, I would go along, having paid upfront, foregoing a healthy profit, and see little or nothing of my favourite player, due to the weather. On the day I'm thinking of in 2007, I also held a debenture ticket, and saw only a brief, routine women's match, followed by the warmup between Nadal and Soderling on Centre Court. That match was subsequently moved to Court 1, and I ended up buying another ticket, which in turn only allowed me to see the first part of the match, also due to rain.

So, it was a combination  of this bad memory, and the fear of witnessing a crushing loss in person, that made me think of staying at home and letting someone else take the risk of all rain and no play. However, the day before the match, after checking ticket prices and the latest forecasts, and determining that there should be at least some play, I e-mailed Pete to say that I would be at the Club the next day.

More than a year ago, I embarked on the crazy ride that has been the "Rafa Euro-spectator Slam", seeing him play at least once at every tournament that he's played in Europe. It began at Roland Garros in 2007, and the non-calendar version was completed in Hamburg this year, but I'm determined to see the "calendar Slam" through in 2008. In a way, the quest has taken on a life of its own, particularly in recent weeks, as titles have been coming, and the comparison with the great player who first inspired me to really love tennis, Bjorn Borg, has been growing stronger. Originally, the idea was to see some live tennis in each location, then move on. As time has gone by, I've made tennis-watching friends, and in particular have attended quite a few matches with MarieJ, which has made the whole experience even more pleasurable, as well as inevitable. And then, in recent weeks, I've been watching a player on a seemingly unstoppable roll, who has also been the victor in a number of memorable matches. With MarieJ's help, I saw my first live Grand Slam final at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. She, like several other friends from TW, told me that I really needed to go to the Wimbledon final.

Ultimately, the decision came down to this: how would my year's quest be complete if I missed the opportunity to see the Wimbledon trophy in Rafael Nadal's hands, even if the match didn't turn out as I hoped? If yesterday had been rained off, I would have had to find a way of being there on Monday. As for the fear aspect, there are times when I think that there's nothing I like less than seeing Nadal and Federer go head-to-head, because I always fear that my favourite will lose. But, the fear of loss is also the reason why these matches are usually so compelling once they are under way - the reward always seems the greater when the victor has had to produce his very best against the best to come through. It's the hopes and fears that lead to the resonances. And (as I really should know from experience, but somehow often manage to forget), once the match is under way, I usually achieve a degree of equanimity about the result, as long as I'm enjoying the tennis itself.   

RafrogWhen I arrived yesterday, the covers were on all the courts. But even though I'd hardly slept the night before, I was feeling good about my decision. After all, what better way to spend the day than experiencing the last-ever rain delays that will hold up a Wimbledon final? I went to meet Pete at the press centre, and afterwards got talking to one of the photographers that I've regularly seen at other events; we swapped stories of the disasters encountered while photographing tennis, and I consciously realised for the first time that, novice though I still am, I've encountered my fair share already while following the tour in these past months, and can also speak almost the same language as the real insiders, which probably means that I'm on my way to becoming experienced. While this was going on, we had a good view of the covers on all the courts, and were continuously kept updated over the tannoy regarding the weather situation. Once the "twenty minutes notice" announcement was made, almost everyone sprinted out of the press centre.

On Centre Court, I had a seat almost overlooking the net, behind the umpire. Glancing around while seating myself, I noticed Bjorn Borg taking his seat in the Royal Box, and even with the naked eye, had no problem identifying Tio Toni's trademark white cap in the players' box. When the players walked on to warm up, Centre Court was, unusually for a final, still filling up with spectators.

I am rarely completely calm during a Nadal match, but this time, my palms were sweaty, and I initially had problems holding my heavy camera up. I'd decided beforehand that, special occasion that this was, I'd keep the "action pictures" to a minimum (I've lost count of how many I already have), and save my efforts for the unique moments, before and after. So, after the first few games, I put my camera down. It's one of the few recent times when I haven't watched a fair chunk of a match with a partly photographic eye. I also realised that during many occasions, holding the camera and deciding when to press the shutter button has been a calming influence - it allows me to give part of my attention to something other than the match itself. Maybe it's an on-court version of hiding behind the sofa. I always watch back recordings of the good matches that I've photographed, but the photography itself has been a useful learning tool - it helps in fixing moments showing what a player does best, and his zones of weakness. For example, I have a large collection of shots demonstrating that Nadal doesn't move as well towards his forehand side as to his backhand, though he often almost gets to the ball in time there. I collected a few more yesterday. 

After those first few games, I already knew that my worst fear hadn't been realised - i.e. that my favourite player wouldn't be playing well. And it also became clear that, despite scoring the early break, he was going to need to work, as usual against this opponent, for every point. I then watched the rest of first two sets with something akin to disbelief, though MarieJ, with whom I exchanged texts during the match, can testify that I remained extremely nervous. Could he win the match in three sets? It seemed a truly bizarre hope, even as the evidence unfolded. Of course, the most important point to win against any truly great player on a big stage is always the last one, as Roger Federer certainly proved yesterday, especially when pulling out some clutch serves at key moments. How many key moments were there? I lost track of all the break points and half-chances, the tiny point-by-point swings of momentum. There was nothing routine about any moment of this match for either player, I felt. Every point seemed to be a no-holds-barred mind-on-mind struggle. 

During the two rain delays, I stayed where I was, stunned. Regardless of the errors that came at some stages of the match, I knew that I was witnessing a contest of the highest order - and at some point also accepted that, whoever won, fans of both players would rightly feel proud of "their guy". Until the final point, I was afraid to hope too much, because I was never among those underestimating Roger Federer at this tournament, and vividly remembered the two tiebreak sets in the 2007 final that he won. At one stage in the third set, he was two points from defeat. Towards the end of the fourth set, as we all know, he was saving Championship points. As we headed into the fifth set, with darkness gathering fast, I felt that he was the favourite, though both players had been holding their service games, mostly with ease. So, I watched the final set with hope, and also appreciation for the contest, especially as neither player folded, and it came down to that one, final break and a hold. I've never been a fan of fifth-set tiebreaks at Slams, and at Wimbledon would like it least of all, and this match shows one reason why - ultimately, the victor needs to take more than one key point from the server.

Rafa2 By the time the match ended, with Nadal splayed on his back on the dusty grass, Centre Court was almost in darkness. I'm sure that it won't have been obvious on TV just how dark it was, because the cameras will adjust for the light. Towards the end, the light had been difficult for a while, with cloud overhead. Shortly after nine o'clock I texted MarieJ to say that light had become a serious issue, having seen the umpire speak to both players. Play went on, though - surely the momentum of the match was too great to interrupt, and conditions were at least the same for both men.

Thus, my most hoped-for pictures also became my greatest-ever photographic challenge. First, I had to wipe a few small tears away. Next, I don't use flash when photographing tennis, and wasn't carrying one, even if I had been close enough to the action for it to matter. I cranked up every setting I could on the camera, and still found that I would need to hand-hold at a shutter speed that is less than ideal for a long lens. So, I just kept firing, and hoped that some pictures would come out. Some that did were illuminated by the flashes from so many other people's cameras. Those were an extraordinary, magical few moments on Centre Court - the flashes were producing something akin to a firework display, lighting up the night in an ever-changing pattern, and allowing the moments of climbing up to the players' box and storming the Royal Box to be clearly seen - as well as the trophy ceremony itself, and the on-court interviews. Has a Wimbledon trophy ceremony ever been held in such darkness before? By the time the main actors left the stage, the sky was deep, dark blue. As Rafa - after walking around the court to show his new trophy to the fans - made his exit, he was no more than a vaguely recognisable white blur holding something fiery aloft.

What a day. And what an evening. As must have been true for many people, I arrived home close to midnight - after a Wimbledon final! It will probably never happen again, but it was a fabulous rollercoaster ride while it lasted, and included my best moments ever while watching tennis, live or otherwise. Reading the TW comments afterwards was also a pleasure, on a day when we collectively beat the record for most comments on a series of Crisis Center posts - for just one match!

Later today, I'll try to get the rest of my pictures up on the web for anyone who wants to see them. However, I think it's more than fitting that two of the three pictures here show both of the warriors I saw in yesterday's match. For the second time in a month, Roger Federer showed me a human side in defeat that I can only respect. And it takes two players to make a great match, for which I can only thank him. I also can honestly say that, great match that it was, had he been the victor - just those few points in it - he too would have deserved it. As Rod Laver once said of his legendary match with Ken Rosewall at the WCT Finals in Dallas in 1972, which he described as the most disappointing loss of his career: "It's our match forever - his win, but our match".   


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Posted by afwu1216 07/07/2008 at 10:54 AM

FIRSTT!! VAMOS RAFA. CANT WAIT UNTIL 7 TONITE!!!!!

Posted by Asad Raza 07/07/2008 at 10:55 AM

Glad you decided to go, Rosia. Can't beat that with a bat.

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2008 at 11:00 AM

Thank you, Tari. :) Your 10:50 really helped. Actually, a lot of these posts are helping - should've stuck around yesterday. (I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I avoided TW.)

And a hearty belated congrats to Rafa fans. Your boy is a worthy champion.

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 11:01 AM

i'm glad you went to the final, Rosangel! and i'm glad you had such a wonderful experience.

i missed out on the TW experience during the final, but i was too nervous to focus on the tv and computer all at once.

can't wait to see your pics...love the three you've put up here. and thanks for all your reports this fortnight!

Posted by Master Ace 07/07/2008 at 11:02 AM

Rosangel,
Glad that you went to see history:) I still am recovering from seeing the beat tennis match that I have ever seen in my life.

Posted by daylily (proud owner of "bubbles") 07/07/2008 at 11:04 AM

morning, twibe.....tangi, yes, "afterglow" is the word, indubitably. thanks to you, tari and all of fed's fans for the kind words.

i am watching it now -- i might have mentioned i couldn't, yesterday, or rafa would have lost (yeah, right!) -- one must be careful about these things.

pete's ode to rafa is astounding on the other thread. he's forgiven for the unfortunate moniker "jet boy" and all other transgressions in the past few years....it's a classic.

if anyone has a copy they can scan of the New York Times this morning, i understood that there was a rather nice pic in it somewhere? thank you from the bottom of my heart if you have this thing....

glowing....jenn, yes.....vetmama, you're a doll.

Posted by Master Ace 07/07/2008 at 11:04 AM

Rafael plans for this week concerning Stuttgart:

http://tinyurl.com/5kom5m

Bismarck,
Paul Henri-Mathieu and Marin Cilic will meet for the 6th time this year in Gstaad, Switzerland that started with Key Biscayne.
Key Biscayne - Mathieu 4-6,6-1,6-4
Munich - Mathieu 6-2,4-6,6-3
London - Mathieu 6-3,3-6,6-4
Nottingham - Cilic 1-6,6-4,6-3
Wimbledon - Cilic 6-7,6-3,6-4,7-6

My guess is that match will be played on Wednesday.

Posted by ava (RAFA=FO&WIMBY CHAMP) 07/07/2008 at 11:11 AM

the CC was closed so I have to comment here.
I'm back from my self-imposed exile(albeit a short one)from TW coz I thought I could not take the tension and the nerves. But since Rafa won i'm glad to be back. Well, yesterday was just surreal. Especially the presentation ceremony which had a mystique to it coz there was hardly any light and because of the innumerable camera flashes clicking. Anyway I cannot express my joy nor my ecstasy as a loyal Rafafan for 4 years I have experienced the greatest joys(and some big painful blows as well)but nothing could surpass the sheer magic that was yesterday's final. That is what it seems to this rafafan-magic. I had wanted this so badly for rafa and i had cried my heart out last year and could not get up in the morning for my exams! I for a brief second thought I would have to go through the same depression again but it was third time lucky. I cannot express in words how much I love rafa. It is almost insane that everytime he loses a point my heart thuds out of my chest. He is a huge part of me and I just just feel incredulously happy in an absolutely insane way.

I could not see the whole final as I thought my seeing it would jinx rafa but I saw the last 3 games and the ceremony. Congratulations to Federer too. He played his heart out and is truly a champion in every right.

But most of all I want to thank my fellow rafafans for their amazing support and belief for our guy which never faded. I also want to express my sincerest appreciation for the great attitude of Roger's fans after such a tough defeat. I for one will defend Federer against stupid columnists who want to undermine his achievements. Federer fans should hold their head up as the 12 time G slam champ played his heart out.

But I'm still pinching myself to believe that my Rafa is now the French Open and Wimbledon champ. I do remember the media boldly declaring that Rafa Nadal will not win a slam outside clay. So much for that prediction. So Fedfans should also remember that whatever the stupid media says you just have to keep believing in your guy. Wow, still in awe that 2008 Wimbledon Championships is Rafa Nadal's.

He deserves every single bit of it!!!!!!!!!!!
VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!

Posted by ava (RAFA=FO&WIMBY CHAMP) 07/07/2008 at 11:13 AM

cannot believe I wrote such a long post.
P.S. Still feeling giddy to think that Rafa Nadal is one among only three men to win the "Channel Slam".

Posted by Jai 07/07/2008 at 11:15 AM

Rosangel: thanks for this. Deeply envious of your spectator slam. Given the kind of season Rafa has had so far and the quality of some of the matches at Hamburg, Monte Carlo, Queen's, the French and Wimby, I would have considered myself very lucky if I had got to see even one-fifth of the tennis that you have in the past few weeks.

Posted by ava (RAFA=FO&WIMBY CHAMP) 07/07/2008 at 11:16 AM

This is slightly embarrassing but I also have to say(As you all know) Rafa Nadal is the winner of the most magical match that transcended the tennis world into the general public's mind.

Sorry for getting ahead of myself but i wanted this so badly for my Rafa.

Posted by Rachael 07/07/2008 at 11:17 AM

Rosangel,
thanks so much for the account. it gave me the shivers. the atmoshpere must have been absolutely electric and truly unforgettable.
I'm so jealous! and very pleased for you.

your photos look great. the fact that you had to scramble to get shots amongst all the emotion and action is even more impressive.

I haven't watched the final two sets yet. woke up with a hangover and it was tough to deal with after not experiencing one for 18+ months.
but an hour hitting on the local rain-slicked courts, a flick through the papers, and plenty of disgusting food later - I feel just about ready to tackle it.


*takes a deep breath*

Posted by afwu1216 07/07/2008 at 11:18 AM

Just wanted to mention that Andy Murray is back in the top 10 at 9 and the women have a new top tener in Agga Radwanska at number 10.

Posted by ND 07/07/2008 at 11:19 AM

Rosangel, was it you who was shouting "C'mon Nadal" throughout the match when someone shouted "C'mon Federer" ? :)

I am still reeling from this match. I went in hoping that Fed would get thrashed, as I was of the opinion that he hasn't put in enough effort in improving his game. After set 2, I thought I was vindicated. But then came the delightful cross court bunts with the backhand...something which he was trying in the French final, and which he has not perfected yet. I believe that this shot, if honed, is the solution to Nadal, and I will prematurely call it Federer's greatest invention.

The close loss makes it too painful, and it's time for Federer to show us that he is mentally a candidate for GOAT (the aesthetic and technical debate is over imho). Finally, a bow to Rafa...the contrast with Federer makes his game so beautiful, and I'm sure in a couple of years we'll be debating his candidacy for GOAT.

Posted by 1221 07/07/2008 at 11:22 AM

i'm acting normal. i've watched the final of rafa and fed, 3 times now, including the live one. i know i'm still normal.

Posted by Christopher 07/07/2008 at 11:27 AM

So glad you had the experience, Rosangel. Thanks for telling us about it.

My fellow Federer fans, how are you doing today? I have to say that I'm surprised that I really haven't gotten over this yet. I think I still feel some of the physical tension from watching the tensest match I've ever seen for hours and hours the day before. Added to that is the empty feeling in my gut whenever I think about the stunning victory that might have been. I'm still thrilled for Rafa and proud of the spectacular display Fed put on, but the pain is still pretty fresh. I want to just leave the match behind and I'm not doing a very good job of it. It would have been easier to take, in some ways, had he lost in straights. I'm still so happy he didn't, but I can't deny the emotional cost (which, needless to say, must be huge for Roger as well). I also find myself just feeling so bad for him. To play at that astounding level and still lose has got to be crushing (as Rafa learned last year). I'm confident he can get over it (as Rafa did so well) and come back as strong if not stronger, but still...

All right, had to get that off my chest. This day should really be about Rafa and his huge achievement, not one Fed fan's emotional issues. Back to work...

Posted by sic (rafa, grass court specialist) 07/07/2008 at 11:27 AM

Thanks for the post and the pictures Rosangel, I'm really happy that you decided to go to the match after all!

Posted by sblily 07/07/2008 at 11:27 AM

Watching ESPN's "First Call" now. Skip Bayless, commenting on Rafa, throws out the s-word.

Okay, I'm slightly retracting what I said in an earlier thread about being happy that tennis is getting some attention in the mainstream media. :(

Posted by felizjulianidad 07/07/2008 at 11:28 AM

I wrote something in the Tom Perrotta thread in response to someone else, but I've realized it could be a valid post here too.

Maha, I beg to disagree. You're speaking like someone who's had hormones slipped into their Kool-Aid.

If you're going to use poetic metaphors for these two, then I do not concur with Federer being "the born champion". If it is anyone, it is Nadal.

If Federer was born anything (apart from Swiss, male, and from his South African mother's womb), it was a tennis player. He personifies what most think of when asked to describe an elegant, complete, athletic, gaunt tennis player who can effortlessly serve aces all day long, whiplash forehand winners with his thin, wiry arms, flail the classic one-handed backhand and cover the entire court without apparently breaking a sweat.

Why was he not "born a champion", then?

Because Federer, for all his immense, undeniable and largely innate talent, took several years to grow into his shoes and align his head with his skills. He used to be a temperamental prodigy who couldn't quite get his act together, and meanwhile Sampras kept winning Wimbledon and the number one spot was traded between the one-dimensional serve-machine Roddick, the indefatigable little battler Hewitt, and the speedy and ultimately afflicted Ferrero. This championship was not decided by tennis skills nor tennis fitness, but by the mind. Federer's mind eventually became an (up until 2008) impregnable fortress of victories, but it was initially vulnerable pulp at the driver's seat of unmeasureable talent.

On the other hand, Nadal is an athlete who surely could have become a professional football player in one of the most important leagues in the world (Spain, Italy and England are constantly competing for that title). His uncle Miquel Àngel is a monumental character (I felt dwarfed against him in an airport once) and (Rafael) Nadal basically had to pick and choose sports. Nadal was certainly not born a tennis player -- who else has his build? He's thinned out recently, and yet the British tabloids still have field days over his muscles. Anyone who sees him for the first time on the court is in awe at his physique -- he was not born for tennis.

Nadal was born to win. His all-court skills had catch-up to do (and he is likely to still improve on hard courts), but Nadal began to win championships as soon as he was technically able to do so. His junior record -- developed without the aid of professional tennis academies -- is full of precocity, and at 14 he already thrashed a former GS Australian champion (who was initially indignant at the prospect of playing a teen barely into puberty). Look it up. By 16, he was in the top 50. Nadal hasn't lost at the FO since he stepped foot in there. Again, Nadal was born to WIN, which is what champions do.

For Nadal, developing his champion's tennis -- not something he was born with -- was a matter of time, experience, and training.

Likewise, for Federer, developing his champion's mind -- not something he was born with -- was a matter of time, experience, and training.

Posted by ava (RAFA=FO&WIMBY CHAMP) 07/07/2008 at 11:29 AM

wow, rosangel it would really have been magical to see that final in person. as i said earlier the trophy presentation was awesome coz of the flashes. i was overwhelmed with emotion and started crying.

gee you must really be lucky to watch these amazing matches in person(especially when rafa is having the winning streak of his life). Enjoy yourself whether he wins or loses but I myself find it hard to watch a match where Rafa is in a position to lose. I wish I were in your shoes. Seeing Rafa in person would be a dream come true for me.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 11:31 AM

Christopher: All of that. Yes.

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2008 at 11:31 AM

Christopher: Right there with you. Waiting for other people to articulate what I'm feeling since I'm apparently unable to do it myself. -_-

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 11:33 AM

good morning...I am finally back to breathing normal after yesterday's amazing final. Thanks Rosangel for your post and your photos.

Daylily: here is one link I found in the NYT

http://tinyurl.com/6mwmgx

I am glad Rafa made the sensible decision to withdraw from Stuttgart. I have to say that after Roger's heartbreaking loss yesterday, I really hope he wins the gold medal at the Olympics. Rafa is young and he can win it in 2012.

I just have one observation from the final when Rafa was climbing up the stands to embrace his family. Roger's dad is clapping and gesturing to Rafa's parents that their son is clambering up the stands. Nice touch. Then as Rafa walks over to the box where Mirka and Roger's mom are sitting to hug someone else from his team, Roger's mom is also seen clapping and Mirka pats Nadal's calf as he proceeds to walk away. You can also see Gavin Rosdale trying to touch Rafa, but misses. Although I did not see Mirka smile or clap, it was nice that she still patted him as if to say "congratulations." It was also endearing to see Rafa makes his way to the royal box to greet the Princes of Asturias (or whatever they're called).

What an amazing final, what an amazing champion. Vamos Rafa!!!

Posted by marcela (la piba) 07/07/2008 at 11:34 AM

ooops...still coming to grips with Rafa's win...that was me headless at 11:33 a.m.

Posted by ava (RAFA=FO&WIMBY CHAMP) 07/07/2008 at 11:36 AM

felizjulianidad, were you referring to me as maha??

Posted by Maedel 07/07/2008 at 11:37 AM

Rosangel,

So great to read your account of the final, as you experienced it. For some strange reason, I was confident that Rafa would win and thought he would take it in four sets. No hiding behind the couch, even during the fifth set, when Rafa was had to win every one of his service games to stay in the running! I called mariej after the win--somehow, couldn't let the event go by without touching base with her!

Your writing is as gracious as your photos are captivating. Love the shot of Rafa and Roger at the net, and look forward to the gallery. Thanks so much.

Posted by adicecream 07/07/2008 at 11:37 AM

Rosangel, thanks so much for sharing your Rafa experiences with us. The photos are superb, the posts illuminating, and what would we have done the past two weeks without your starting us off every morning?

I can't remember a tournament that I enjoyed more than this year's Wimbledon.

Posted by sblily 07/07/2008 at 11:39 AM

Champion's Dinner pic: http://tinyurl.com/682rov

Posted by Mr Rick 07/07/2008 at 11:39 AM

I went back and watched the fifth set a few more times, and here I think is what shocked me the most - that in the last few games Rafa played so many good old fashioned defensive strokes against Roger's forehand. By that time in the match, I would have been in a state of total panic, desperately swinging for 120 mph winners. Instead Rafa decided to play like he always does - and maybe the way he knew would work against Roger. To me, this took unbelievable balls, insight, self-confidence, or all three. Unbelievable.

Also, I was unable to watch most of the last two sets with the TV sound on - and had to walk away from the TV several times altogether. After the 4th set, I felt Roger had taken the momentum of the match and I just couldn't bear to watch much. But at some point in the 5th set - I think after Rafa saved the break point - he did a little fist pump and a Vamos, total confidence and focus still in his face. I thought okay dude, if that's the way you still feel about this match, then so do I. Rafa is one inspirational individual.

All that said, I also bow down to the still-King Roger Federer. His serving and really everything about the way he plays is breathtaking. I see many more Rafa-Roger battles in the future. Roger is and always will be an incredible champion.

And another bit of consolation to Roger fans - at least somehow NBC managed to broadcast THIS match live...heh...

Many thanks to Roseangel for all her great pics and posts and to everyone who posts here.

Posted by Max 07/07/2008 at 11:41 AM

If I must be honest, this match was a little over-rated

Posted by ava (RAFA=FO&WIMBY CHAMP) 07/07/2008 at 11:41 AM

Rafa is looking dazzling in that suit from the Wimby dinner. Wow venus is taller than Rafa but she is probably wearing heels.

Posted by evie 07/07/2008 at 11:42 AM

I guess the Swiss president was at Wimbledon yesterday, but Federer's dad told him Roger couldn't meet with him. He was too torn up to meet with anyone. Crushing, indeed.

It's going to take time, but he'll figure out how to deal with this defeat. He did not win 12 GSs and stay at the top for 230-some weeks by being weak mentally. Of course, this loss will never really go away. The sting of not getting a sixth straight title will in some way be with him forever. But he'll come through -- and his next GS win will be amazing for all that he'll have been through to get to the next one.

Posted by Rachael 07/07/2008 at 11:44 AM

I know I said I was about to watch the conclusion of yesterday's final, but I got mesmerized watching legions of little workers mop up the covers on the Betfair stream from the Bastad.

what an entertaining rigmorale. not even sure if they're going to start play after all that.

re: Champion's Dinner pics - the dress Venus is wearing looks like it could be a stunner, but that jacket is almost heinous.

Posted by gerry 07/07/2008 at 11:44 AM

"Has a Wimbledon trophy ceremony ever been held in such darkness before?"

yes! Sampras-Rafter, 2000

Posted by highpockets 07/07/2008 at 11:44 AM

Rosangel, thank you so much for this ... and so glad you got to experience in person this great final. Wow!

My DVR menu is not showing the final on ESPN Classic at 5:00 Pacific Time ... don't know why. Maybe they haven't corrected the menu yet, or could it be they're not showing it here?? I hope that isn't the case.

Anyway, here's my brief poem about the final:

THE GLORY OF COMBAT

What a magnificent moment in tennis today,
Almost five hours total … a record they say.
The world’s greatest venue; the world’s two best players;
One pumped up and sleeveless ... one refined, dressed in layers.

In the end, both these champions gave it their all,
But one had to win and one had to fall.
Roger’s five trophies have etched him in time,
He’ll feel this loss, but he’s still in his prime.

He’ll emerge in a few weeks, ready for battle,
And he’ll choose to make light of the press and the prattle.
His character strengthened, he’ll welcome the fight,
And be classy and confident, smart and polite.

As for Rafael’s fate, it would not be denied,
He held on to his nerve … his time had arrived.
He showed us his power, his speed and his grit
And the proud Spanish spirit that would not let him quit.

In the cool evening air, Rafa’s smile was glorious,
His flag o’er his shoulders … happy, victorious.
Once again, these two men on that Wimbledon court,
Made us all very proud to be part of this sport.

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2008 at 11:48 AM

highpockets: *bowing* That even brought a tiny tear to my eye. Bless you.

Posted by naughty T 07/07/2008 at 11:48 AM

ok ok Max wins the prize.
biggest laugh of the day. It's the way you tell 'em big guy.

Posted by Rachael 07/07/2008 at 11:50 AM

highpockets - wow!

Posted by Brooklyn(the borough not the fiancee) 07/07/2008 at 11:51 AM

I have been trying to find an answer to the question is Federer able to retain the number one ranking for the rest of the year?

I don't like the pic of Nadal on the front of the NYT. It looks like some unfortunate woman gave birth to a fully-grown man on some random well-manicured lawn.

Posted by Fran 07/07/2008 at 11:52 AM

I found Roger's loss unbelievably painful.Sometimes something happens in the world arena that reflects your own losses in life and this is one of those times.It doesnt seem like Roger will recover from this ,but perhaps he might (perhaps I might recover from my losses also)
I was suprised at people saying this is the best match at Wimbledon.I didnt think Roger played as well as he has in the past.I thought last years match between them was better quality.I saw a lot of baseline heavy hitting and wished for some more refined shot-making.I dont know if Roger cant do that with Rafa,or if his level has dipped quite a bit.It could be his one-handed backhand difficulty with Nadal.Or could be his level has indeed dropped.It looked more similar to a grinding claycourt match than a beautiul grass court shotmaking match.Please dont anyone attack me for this comment.Its just my perception.Its going to take me a long time to recover from this and seeing how roger really felt,in his interview with John Macenroe,was too much a self-reflection.
Congrats to Rafa and his fans.

Posted by Russ (Black n' Blue) 07/07/2008 at 11:54 AM

and at 11:50, yahoo.com has deemed yesterday's epic no longer as big a sports story as any of:

1. the Sabitha expected (not actual) trade,
2. A-Rod (the other A-Rod)'s possible (not actual) divorce,
3. Nadal's withdrawal from the Mercedes Cup,
4. a regular season baseball game,
5. the death of a former Chargers safety.

Forgive me for being cynical, but will tennis ever be big in the States?

Posted by marron 07/07/2008 at 11:55 AM

Hi all. Thanks, daylily, for giving me le mot juste. Afterglow is perfect. Interesting comments from some of the Rafa fans about their confidence over this final. I also felt this way, but didn't want to say anything - jinxes and all that. Just a very good feeling that this time it would be Rafa holding that beautiful golden trophy. And in no way am I taking anything away from Roger Federer, the number one, the 5-time champ, and the guy who fought back from two sets down and came so close. I don't know, I just have such faith in Rafa's will. And in what a quick study he is - I saw the pain in his face after last year's loss, and I knew he would do anything in his power to take that memory and do something positive with it next time.

Rosangel, so very glad you decided to go to the final. Now no regrets, ever. And methinks you just might be Rafa's lucky charm. Fantastic photos for us, and fantastic memories for you. Thank you.

Vamos, Rafa - Wimbledon 08 Champion!

Posted by Sophia 07/07/2008 at 11:58 AM

The final was watched by 13.1m viewers here in England, more than 47% of the British television audience on Sunday!! (According to bbc.co.uk/sport) Add that to all of the front pages on newspapers and it just goes to show what these two fantastic players are doing for our sport.

I'm still stunned by the match we witnessed, as usually something that is so hyped up always crashes and burns a little bit. Who knew that the match would turn out to be even better than we were hoping for!!

Posted by Russ (Black n' Blue) 07/07/2008 at 11:58 AM

Highpockets: You got that one right. You would give the good Dr. Seuss competition. Well done.

Posted by tennisesq. 07/07/2008 at 12:00 PM

I hope there's room for one more person in the Fed Fan camp.

Up until yesterday, I was primarily a WTA fan due to my rabid following of the Williams sisters. I was fairly neutral when it came to Fed. To be honest, I often rooted for his opponents. Yesterday was a turning point. Fed has completely won me over. There's something about me that identifies with the underdog, which is how I view Roger now. I know Fed is still number one, has more grand slam titles than any other active player, blah blah blah. But, seeing him come up short after giving it his all just resonated with me. It won't get any easier for him with stronger, younger guys chomping at his heels. (I keep replaying in my head the championship points Fed saved in the 4th set TB. So exhilarating). I think Fed will be a nice addition to my rooting interests.

PS: I've been trying to focus on other things to cope with yesterday's events, like child poverty and world hunger. But, that is just not cutting it right now and I feel guilty for that. I'm always so amazed how a tennis match (a miniscule event in the grand scheme of things) can generate so much emotion in me.

Posted by Russ (Black n' Blue) 07/07/2008 at 12:02 PM

Tennisesq: Welcome. Here's your official RF black outfit for the hardcourt season. There's always room for you.

Posted by suri 07/07/2008 at 12:02 PM

first and foremost congrats to nadal, as fed himself said, nadal is a deserving champion the way he fought back thill the end..
it was a gloomy day yesterday for me yesterday with fed's loss and i completely switched off TV/internet and was taking care of my house to forgot the loss. it was very very painfull to see federer yesterday after the match. i wonder (and respect a lot) how the ppl at the top take all these pressure in day to day life and again come up with class and top notch performances like yesterday....
i feel fed has already proved that he is one of the GOAT candidates (i am not comfortable in comparing across generations) and whatever he is doing now is a bonus to his fans and mostly to the game of tennis itself..
i beleive fed bounces back strongly during the rest of the season and will end the season on a high note..
you are the king, go ROGER...

Posted by Russ (Black n' Blue) 07/07/2008 at 12:03 PM

P.S., and I too have been wondering why sports events like this can conjure up such emotion in me. Fascinating, really. I mean, for me to cry over two rich, attractive young men chasing a ball... why is it? I have my theories, so let me know if you care to discuss.

Posted by Flyer 07/07/2008 at 12:04 PM

The match brings so many heated and conflicting feelings for both the players and their fans that articulating clearly what took place and one's reactions to it are a challenge for those involved in this or any sport.

Tough tough match to come to grips with - the emotional intensity of yesterday has left all a bit adrift - whether in the sea of happiness or the lake of gloom - our moorings have become detached.

Nadal and Federer played an indisuptably great, classic, titanic match - one as they say "for the ages".

The pride each player rightfully feels, and the pride their respective fans have in them is a testament to two very deserving atheletes and men of passion, character and personal strength.

Nadal - has laid claim to the Wimbeldon crown this year - a wonderful achievement in itself - and though his ascent comes at the the sad expense of "The Federer" - it is a win he will cherish his entire life in and out of sport.

Nadal, the Gentlemen's 2008 Wimbeldon Champion - well played sir, well played.

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2008 at 12:06 PM

tennisesq: I enjoyed that! And I second Russ in welcoming you to the Fed Fan Camp.

Russ: Please share. :)

Posted by Syd 07/07/2008 at 12:07 PM

Russ: @ 12:03

Because you're attracted to them? Just kidding- my Freudian self is coming through here.


Posted by sic (rafa, grass court specialist) 07/07/2008 at 12:09 PM

Marron I was confident before and during most of the match that Rafa was going to win (actually I was over-confident, before the match I said I thought he could win in 3 sets); but I have to admit that my confidence faltered when Rafa gave away the 4th set tie breaker. Roger's serve is scary. I didn't really regain confidence in victory until the stunning point he won to tie the fifth set 6-6; at that point he seemed to kick it into a higher gear, hitting harder and moving better.

Posted by tennisesq. 07/07/2008 at 12:10 PM

Russ,
Thanks. Exactly. Why do I shed any tears over Venus, Serena, and now Roger's losses? It's silly really. They hop into their Mercedes Benz courtesy cars on the way to the private jet, which will take them back to their multi-million dollar mansions. Meanwhile, there are thousands of street children in Brazil sniffing glue to numb their hunger pains.

Please elaborate. What are your theories? Vicarious existence?

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2008 at 12:10 PM

Mr. Rick, I agree. After the lost 5-2 lead in the fourth set tiebreak, I was worried about a fifth set similar to last year. But Rafa held strong in his first few serve games of the fifth. That was the turning point to me. I think everyone watching sort of expected an early break there. I know I did.

Great post, Christopher.

Russ, sad isn't it? I was glad to see the tennis match be the first story, and a long one at that, on Sportscenter last night. But obviously, it'll probably be short lived. Very irritating.

Has anyone else sent a smart alec e-mail to Bill Simmons this morning? :)

Highpockets, you're amazing. :)

Posted by sblily 07/07/2008 at 12:11 PM

Highpockets: I think the match starts at 4 Pacific.

I agree that Vee's jacket is horrible. But I guess it's versatile -- if she gets tired of being feted, she can break up the monotony by showing people to their seats or going to the ladies' room to offer dry towels.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 12:11 PM

Aww...tennisesq! Welcome! And you are the Venus fan, right? Could not have been more pleased with the ladies' final. That was (IMO) Serena bumping up against Venus's will, and it was lovely to see. Again. Wow. :)

Posted by abbey 07/07/2008 at 12:11 PM

rosangel, so happy for you you decided to go. what an experience that must have been. oh, and i love the 2nd picture.

highpockets, bravo once again.

Posted by highpockets 07/07/2008 at 12:14 PM

Thanks guys.

Rosangel, were most of the chants in the stands for "Roger" or were they mixed together or did they alternate the two?

Posted by linex 07/07/2008 at 12:16 PM

Thank you Rosangel for sharing your experience at the final yesterday with us! Cannot wait to see the rest of your pictures ...

Is there an upcoming monday net post also? We all know who are the heroes of the week I think ...

Posted by CPM 07/07/2008 at 12:17 PM

I came into yesterday's match as a rather unabashed Nadal booster; while I have deep appreciation for the level of play Federer demonstrates, the very serenity & easy grace that characterizes his game made it hard for me to root for him. No more. I was, and am, thrilled that Rafa accomplished what has to be considered a Herculean feat--a Spaniard winning Wimbledon? during the reign of one of the greatest players ever to set foot on a tennis court? after failing to capitalize on that fourth set tiebreak lead? You cannot be serious!--but Federer's gutsy play, his fighting spirit, and his endless class have made a fan out of me. The two of them--equally--deserve all the superlatives that have been lavished upon them.

And I, for one, don't have the slightest doubt that Federer will match and surpass Sampras's record. And when he does? I'll be clapping and hollering for him, just like I clapped and hollered for Rafa last night.

Vamos, Rafa! Allez, Roger!

Posted by CL 07/07/2008 at 12:23 PM

Well, it seems to be safe to come out now. I had the truly bizarro experience of having a last minute, unexpected and unavoidable family 'do,' yesterday. I left off watching the match after seeing Fed go down 2 sets to love, and so, in a lot of ways I was kinda glad to leave. Two hours later when we arrived at our tv-less destination, I used a pc to check on scores. I was pleasantly surprised to see Roger had pulled out the 3rd set TB. Family duties kept calling but I kept checking the scoreboard occasionally and couldn't believe that match was going on, and, on and on - like Tennyson's brook, as my mother used to say. When I finally saw that Rafa had won I was hugely disappointed, but not, I have to say, devastated, in any way. Maybe it would have been different seeing the match live; I honestly don't know.

I'm not surprised Fed is "crushed." He would not be the competitor or the champion he is if he were not. But I KNOW that he will bounce back from this. And as a Fed fan, I can not help but being SO immensely proud of how he fought back, clawed and held on by his fingertips. And not against just anyone. But against the hugely talented, mentally unflinching, furiously determined force of nature that is Rafa Nadal. THIS time, he could not hold on, but again, I have no doubt that he will be back and continue his own furious assault of talent and drive on the rest of the tennis world, including Rafa. No one, quite rightly, has EVER questioned Rafa's Wilanders, but even after last year's Wimby final, some continued to question Fed's. IMO, NO ONE can ever question TMF's EVER again.

As a TENNIS fan.... well, just wow...I think and hope this match will bring some much needed attention to this great sport. I won't presume to tell my fellow Fed fans how to feel. But I for one, though deeply disappointed that he could not lift the pineapple this time, am also overwhelmed with the gift of a great sporting event, played on nearly hallowed ground, by two such gifted athletes - each blessed with a champion's heart.

And lastly, but by no means least - Congratulations to Rafa Nadal and all his many fans. And this is not just the pro forma 'congrats' after a winning match. He is a wonderful young champion and we are ALL truly blessed to bear witness to this great rivalry.

Rosia - I too am so glad you went and provided us with such a vivid and empathetic report. But you know what? You better be careful. Ir sounds like you are losing a bit of that 'indifference," to a certain RF.

Off to read a zillion comments...

Posted by naughty T 07/07/2008 at 12:23 PM

CPM
thanks, you have made at least this Fed fans heart a little lighter that you have seen the light and realized that Fed is far from over as a force and that it is his lightness and ease on court that make him a joy to watch.
ying and yang guys.

Posted by tennisesq. 07/07/2008 at 12:24 PM

Thanks Jackie.

Tari,
Yup, Venus is my #1. I'm glad you were pleased with the ladies' final. There are no words to describe how I felt after Venus was able to conquer her demons and beat Serena in a grand slam final after 5 straight losses.

Venus,
What's with the jacket?

Posted by Flyer 07/07/2008 at 12:30 PM

The pain of Fed's loss is quite surprisingly sharp and piercing to the core - yet the pleasure he brings to this fan is well worth all the stumbles along the way.

And so - Roger:

For all the great accomplishments you have garnered so far in your phenomenal career, nothing outshines the grit and fortitude you displayed during yesterday's match.

I am as heartened by your "loss" as I have ever been by any of your wins. The passion, brilliance and dignity you bring to every aspect of your game is breathtaking - and you hold a trophy of far greater value within than any won on the field of play - a champion's heart, a champion's spirit.

For all the future tournaments you will win I applaud you, for all the beauty, shotmaking brilliance and athletic prowess you bring to every match I salute you, and for all the passion, grace, valor and respect you bring to all your endeavors I thank you.

Posted by Mr Rick 07/07/2008 at 12:32 PM

Also, it probably hasn't been said here enough, but Venus Williams and Serena Williams ROCK. Their story got a little (to say the least) overshadowed by Roger-Rafa. But Venus's focus and self-confidence was every bit as impressive as Rafa's. Serena sucking up her tremendous disappointment and going out anyway and winning the doubles with Venus was awesome. And I wish Venus was my big sister.

And even though it probably has been said here too many times, I will say it again - Brad Gilbert is a total dou***-bag. He went from totally singing Rafa's praises earlier in the week to flaming him after the semi's, to then saying after the final Rafa would now totally take over tennis and win the USO, AO, etc., etc. Woe be it to any player who doesn't fit his narrative...since Rafa didn't blow our Rainer in the semi's, as he predicted, Rafa therefore played terrible. Rafa is the King now but if he doesn't win the US Open, he will be a total failure. Brad Gilbert is a bully and a gas bag, and I wouldn't want him for a big bother, or a friend, and definately not as a coach.

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 12:32 PM

Rosangel I'm very happy for you, for making it to the final after all. What an opportunity of a lifetime! :)

Posted by Sophia 07/07/2008 at 12:33 PM

"Tough tough match to come to grips with - the emotional intensity of yesterday has left all a bit adrift - whether in the sea of happiness or the lake of gloom - our moorings have become detached."

So true. It's an unbelieveable feeling. Everyone I have spoken to who watched the match (and it seems as though everybody saw it) just seemed numb today, completely and utterly lost for words and stunned by what they had witnessed. Exhausted by the emotions it produced and almost in disbelief that we had really seen a match of that intensity, drama and quality. As Rafa clutched the trophy in the sea of flashbulbs, it just all seemed so surreal.

People have said it was the greatest match of all time. I know some don't agree, but I really do. It felt historical as it was being played and just somehow different to everything I have ever seen before on a tennis court.

I am in awe of the talent of both players and their ability to play so well under so much pressure in that last set. They both wanted it so much and were prepared to fight so hard for it. That's what made the match so special. I remember Pete saying that he thought this tournament was somehow irrelevant nowadays (or something smiliar) - you try telling that to any of the four finalists who we saw dig so deep this weekend!!

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 12:33 PM

highpockets, love the poem. very well said.

hey Jackie. hope you're feeling a bit better :) Same to you, Rachael! i want to go and play some tennis today but we're having quite a bit of rain.

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2008 at 12:33 PM

Hmmm, maybe I need to get a better look, but I don't mind Vee's jacket at all. Am I alone?

Posted by CPM 07/07/2008 at 12:34 PM

naughty T: Oh, I never bought into this "Federer on the decline" nonsense; even if I haven't always rooted for him, I don't think I've ever underestimated him (AO'08 looked to me more like a hiccup than anything else). And, from where I was sitting (viz. on the edge of my seat, eyes glued to the TV screen), it didn't look like Federer's level of play dropped off in the least yesterday; Nadal had to pry that trophy from Federer's hands with every ounce of strength and determination he could muster. To say otherwise does, in my humble opinion, an injustice to both Fed & Rafa.

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 12:36 PM

Christopher, you make a good case for how I feel in your 11:27am post. I thought I'd be more over it by now; I mean, I like Rafa very much. But it hurts. Well onwards, after a decompression period.

*hugs to fellow Fed fans*

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 12:36 PM

oh and meant to add, i actually like venus's jacket. i don't think it goes with the whole ensemble but as a jacket, i really like it.

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2008 at 12:36 PM

harini: Thanks! I am, actually. Time heals - as does TW. :)

Mr Rick: I so agree re: Jeelbair. He makes my skin crawl.

Posted by vanfan 07/07/2008 at 12:36 PM

Something funny I noticed on RDS, the french language sport station in Canada during one of the men's semi's or quarterfinals .

A multiple choice question, "Who did John McEnroe defeat to win his first Wimbledon title?"

A. Jimmy Connors
B. William Renshaw
C. Bjorn Borg
D. Chris Lewis

I know McEnroe is getting a little on in years but Renshaw, lol

Posted by Samantha Elin 07/07/2008 at 12:44 PM

Christopher, from the last blog, I think you're right, Marat and Zheng deserve more than a B, more like a A because both went behind expectations. Roddick and Blake a D for going below expectations. The best dressed was definetly Sharapova and Venus. I think I liked Sharapova's outfit a little better because it's more my style. I don't see why all the knives are out for Roger it was an extremely close match which could have went either way. I don't think Rafa is all of a sudden going to start dominating Roger based on a couple points which is what he won by. I think a lot of the trash talking is that some people like to see someone on top fall down. Like Roger said 'write what you want." It doesn't make it true.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 12:46 PM

Samantha: I've been meaning to say that I have been touched by your defense of Roger over the last few weeks. Just wanted you to know that. Thanks. :)

*hugs Sher*

Posted by SueB 07/07/2008 at 12:49 PM

Rosangel,

I'm so glad you went to the final and fittingly completed your Rafa Tour 2008. Your articles and pics highy enjoyable.

Sometime, not now when everyone is still on an adrenaline high, could you write about what the physical facilities are like at the different tennis venues? My mother tells me attending a golf tournament involves fighting your way around a "a golf mall" in tents before you can get the the tournament itself.

I don't remember Wimbledon being an overwhelming commercial venture, but that was a while back. Are the tee shirts, coffee mugs, wannabe player clothes overwhelming on the continent?

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2008 at 12:49 PM

Jackie, hope you're feeling better. And Whitney, too, whereever you are!

Rachael, I have to say again, thanks for the undies. You made it all possible. :)

CPM, totally agree. Australia was a complete mono-induced hiccup, in my opinion. Clay was a great performance, except for the Nadal matches, but they are for everyone. And grass took an epic match decided by a couple points that Roger could have easily won. Roger's got years of greatness left.

Posted by Jackie 07/07/2008 at 12:54 PM

Thank you, Sherlock! Reminding myself that, well, it is just tennis, after all. ;)

Posted by Or 07/07/2008 at 12:56 PM

Congrats, Rosangel! I'm so happy for you, that you could have been there. I was afraid you haven't and then drowned yourself in the bathtub or something. Wise desicion, Rafa pulled through with some guts, great play, and sheer stubborness.

This had been a really weird day for me, I was moping around all day, I really didn't think it would stick with me till well into today, the feeling of sadness didn't leave me.

Yesterday I didn't do much but wait for the match, watch it and then discuss it. Oh, and cry. I actually had several things to do and I didn't get to them at all, which made me feel guilty.

I had to go to work today, and I was carrying a huge lump in the back of my throat from the moment I woke up till around noon (I didn't have an appetite, which doesn't happen often at all), and only at lunch around 2 PM, when one of my co-workers, who follow tennis, made me join them even though I wasn't eating anything - she told me she had seen the match (She was pro Roger, her BF was pro Rafa) and we engagged in some real life discussion about it, did I begun to feel better.

This hasn't really been a productive day in the office, and now I'm begining to wonder what the hail I'm going to do with the bar exams coming up at the end of October, when I have Olympics, USO and several masters coming up.

Hello everyone, my name is Or, and I'm a Tennis addict.

Sigh.

BTW, remember Pete's piece about Mirka and her Role in Roger's career? Apperantly, in the first TB, she was the only one in the locker room with him. She talked, and he listened.

Worked for two sets.

Posted by svelterogue 07/07/2008 at 12:59 PM

dear rosia

(i wrote a long post and got an error. it wasn't meant to be. so now i have to be concise in repetition)

like you, i was moved to tears the moment rafa knew he had won his first wimbledon title. i could hardly see what he did in the next moments, vaguely aware that he had clambered up his box to embrace his family and team, then sauntered over to the royal box to greet his country's elated prince and princess.

i have "suffered" with rafa through his injuries, his struggles on the hardcout and in the last two wimbledon finals, felt every loss most acutely. last night was the culmination of all his hard work, the fruition of his fiercest dreams, and to have been "there" to witness it was grace, a moment of privilege.

since you embarked on your rafa euro spectator slam, you have included me and all of TW in your amazing adventure, sharing generously your expertise, insights, talents, memories of a moving journey. you took us along for this amazing ride, mindless of whether we would be flung to the mud or to the embrace of stars (or rain-filled clouds) above.

thank you for bringing us closer to rafa and tennis all these months, rosia. thank you for your first-hand accounts of the amazing matches that you have been blessed to see up close. thank you for capturing the significant, the meaningful, rendering them all unforgettable.

last year when pete wrote a piece following rafa's heart-wrenching loss in that wimbledon final, i burst into tears. i didn't know how deeply i had embraced this sport and the "pathos" of my favourite player. now, after reading your report, i am moved once more, and this time these are not tears of despair but of buoyant joy and catharsis. last night, all rafa's hard work, all his struggles, bore fruit in the darkening gloam.

thank you, rosia, for everything. i consider myself blessed.

roseangel valenti, you rock.

svelterogue

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 01:00 PM

great post,Rosangel: I first started to drop by TW because your post -FO -eve of Queen's rundown of the entire affair seemed to be so simply expressed and yet so genuinely heartfelt. You've achieved that same effect again here but moreso. Brillliant way to cap it off with that beautifully apt quote from Rosewall. Surely,when both players have left their match days behind them they will look back and remember ths as THEIR match-much more important than whose win and whose loss!

DAY LILY: greetings if you are still around. I understand that that New York Times photo you were asking about is ON THE FRONT PAGE and immediately below the Bold Type Capitals that say NEW YORK TIMES. It doesn't get much better,no?

For Rafa fans. the Spanish TV says that Rafa will not be playing Stuttgart because of knee injuries suffered while playing Wimbledon(that fall in the 2nd or 3rd set?). Don't ask for more because absolutely nothing is said as to how serious(or NOT serious) it is.
He'll be going to Stuttgart but NOT playing due to problems in the knee.

PLUH -EEZE,where I can I find the Wimbledon Ball pics?

Posted by Rachael 07/07/2008 at 01:00 PM

Sherlock - the undies were just doing their job.

infact, as I am re-watching, I feel I should put them back on. just incase something insane happens, and we all go back in time, and Rafa loses, all because I dared to take off the sacred Bjorn's.

I simply must put them back on!

Posted by beth - of the blondtourage 07/07/2008 at 01:04 PM

good morning , guys
Rosangel- thank you for the account of your day at the final
I am so glad you went - and envious , too
I was hoping that since we did not see your name among the many posts during the match , that you were in attendance

as for that jacket on Venus - ewwww
jackie , I fear you may be alone in liking that one
maybe it would be ok for work or a luncheon - but surely not a formal event
what a shame - the dress looks like it would be worth seeing

Posted by Sandra 07/07/2008 at 01:06 PM

Great picture of Venus and Rafa at the Wimby dinner. Venus and Rafa are both 6' 1", so it looks like V is wearing 3 inch heels! I love V's gown and the striped crested jacket - I'm guessing it's an EleVen design also based on the crest.

Posted by marron 07/07/2008 at 01:07 PM

Svelterogue - your post rocks too! You said it better than I ever could. Word.

Rachel, LOL! Get those bloomers back on, right now. Thanks for my first belly laugh of the day.

going now, have not accomplished a darn thing around here....

(mutter mutter)

Posted by Liz (for Federer 4-ever & always!) 07/07/2008 at 01:08 PM

flyer said...

The pain of Fed's loss is quite surprisingly sharp and piercing to the core - yet the pleasure he brings to this fan is well worth all the stumbles along the way.

And so - Roger:

For all the great accomplishments you have garnered so far in your phenomenal career, nothing outshines the grit and fortitude you displayed during yesterday's match.

I am as heartened by your "loss" as I have ever been by any of your wins. The passion, brilliance and dignity you bring to every aspect of your game is breathtaking - and you hold a trophy of far greater value within than any won on the field of play - a champion's heart, a champion's spirit.

For all the future tournaments you will win I applaud you, for all the beauty, shotmaking brilliance and athletic prowess you bring to every match I salute you, and for all the passion, grace, valor and respect you bring to all your endeavors I thank you.

**********************************************************

thank you flyer for saying this. this makes the loss a little bit more bearable. Fed needs to read this. I hope someone somewhere is saying this to him and much more.

If there was a way I could teleport some big love Roger's way now, I would. He showed me his true heart yesterday.

Posted by Carrie 07/07/2008 at 01:08 PM

sblily --

Urgh. Skip Bayless can be such a jerk about things. He is often very hateful- and not just about tennis.

Posted by beth - of the blondtourage 07/07/2008 at 01:10 PM

hmmm...never thought about that jacket being one of her own designs
still , IMO , it's a miss

Posted by Carrie 07/07/2008 at 01:10 PM

And thanks Rosangel for the great post.

There has been a good deal of talk about the match in mainstream sports press here in the US and for the vast majority it is very respectful and complimentary of Rafa and Roger.

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 01:15 PM

hey beth! hope you celebrated Rafa's win well :) you and Jenn watched the match together, right?

i like venus's jacket, and on second glance, i thought the whole outfit actually looked ok, jacket and all. i don't mind being in the minority, i don't have a sense of style :P

Posted by Sherlock 07/07/2008 at 01:15 PM

Jackie, true. But I know it still hurts. I know I was pissy for a while after last year's Wimby. At least you're smiling, that's good to see. :)

LOL, Rachel. Agreed. Don't risk it. :)

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 01:15 PM

hey beth! hope you celebrated Rafa's win well :) you and Jenn watched the match together, right?

i like venus's jacket, and on second glance, i thought the whole outfit actually looked ok, jacket and all. i don't mind being in the minority, i don't have a sense of style :P

(that's not to say anyone else who also likes the jacket doesn't have any sense of style either...hope it didn't sound that way!)

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 01:15 PM

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3475793&name=bodo_peter

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 01:17 PM

Or, don't worry about studying for the bar exams during all the tennis. I've taken 5 bar exams (including NY and Cali) and they're not so bad. Just focus on working the sample questions and timing yourself on them. And if you took one of the prep courses, make sure you know the Mini-Review book like the back of your hand (when I studied for the Cali bar exam right after I took NY, all I did was work the sample questions and memorize the Mini-Review book - but I had also by that time already taken 2 bar exams).

Posted by Liwa 07/07/2008 at 01:17 PM

[I haven't posted since the final but wanted to share my experience because it shows the effect that this extraordinary match had and how it could do wonders for the sport.]

After the first two sets I decided to go for a walk because I found the whole situation depressing - not Rafa winning per se, just to see a great champion brought low without a fight at his 'home' tournament. When I got back in an hour or two later (sodden through - Hampstead was just as wet as Wimbledon yesterday) I found my housemates watching the match - Federer had just taken the third set. Neither of them like sport so I was surprised but settled down with them because at least the match looked competitive now.

In the hours that followed none of us could tear ourselves away from the television. When it looked like the final would have to finish on Monday one of my housemates even bemoaned the fact that he had to work because otherwise he would join the queue to watch the finale - this from someone who doesn't follow any sport and had to have the tennis scoring system explained to him that week.

The match managed to convert two music-loving/sport-despising people into huge fans (hopefully for life but at least for a day) and that was something to see. This was probably replicated across the country as apparently over 12 million Britons watched the match, which is a VERY high viewing figure for anything nowadays.

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 01:19 PM

Good-morning to you BETH! ... and to Svelte_Rogue and ABBEY good-night is probably more appropriate if you haven't already turned in due to last night being an all-nighter!

Glad to see some posts earlier from TARI and Naughty T as I was worried about them,needlessly as it turned out.

CHRISTOPHER your post about it's being a new day and Federer STILL had lost made me chuckle. That is TOO droll. Hang on for a little while more and then all of a sudden it will be in the past and we'll be all on fire with the AO madness. And,then,my friends,I think a pesky Serb is going to have to be let into the equation. And I doubt Rafa can pull off in the same season such a massive improvement on HARD as he has on Grass (took him 3 yrs for the grass). Christopher,arise and shine my lad! There is much for a fed fan to look forward to.

Meanwhile, this Rafa supporter is exultant.

All of you gossiping about Venus's gown and jacket (tacky ,inappropriate??) are making me jealous. Was Xisca at the ball?

Posted by Caroline 07/07/2008 at 01:23 PM

Rafa was amazing yesterday and is a really worthy champion. Hard as it is to accept, this should be his day.

As a Roger fan, my only hope is that the emotional drain of this match has not been too great. He spoke on BBC radio of believing that he would find the motivation and courage required for all the hard work required to be back next year, but he said at the moment he knew that it would take time to recover and it was very hard.

Roger losing this match at this point in his career is not the same as Rafa losing last year. It was a completely different stage of Rafa's career. I always felt that this year Wimbledon was Roger's emotional Alamo as he was hounded more and more by the press, players and pundits and his own desire to break records. Roger is a mature man who no longer has the optimism and certainty of youth. I said in Pete's Death of Wanting that I thought Roger saying Rafa clearly felt the pressure, maybe 'for the first time in his life' sounded as if it came from someone who had felt and overcome pressure so many times. I would be very sad to see Roger putting himself through hell and being broken on some emotional rack.

Posted by beth - of the blondtourage 07/07/2008 at 01:26 PM

harini- good morning . Yes , Jenn came over to my house early yesterday morning to watch the tennis . As the day went on both my kids and their friends joined us -so we had a party. But poor Jenn , she gets so nervous - she cannot just sit and watch the tv - so she would just get up and run around the block ! We were all laughing - Jake was trying to convince her to do his laundry - and I thought about handing her a dusting cloth - she was looking for something to clean - as that apparently helps calm her nerves

I have not seen any photos of Xisca at all from Wimbledon - but I cannot imagine she was not there . She has been there in the past , and often spends time with Rafa's sister

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 01:27 PM

Liwa, it's nice the match got two of your non-tennis housemates into watching tennis and getting them to enjoy the sport. one of my best friends also got converted into fandom (for rafa and tennis). i used to drag her along to matches at uni but those do not compare to what we all saw yesterday happen at wimbledon.

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