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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 Tari 07/07/2008 at 01:29 PM

Caroline, that was beautiful. Thank you. It really takes a fan of Roger's, and some converts and particularly empathetic fans of other players to see all of that. Bless you. :)

Posted by beth - of the blondtourage 07/07/2008 at 01:29 PM

Vee's jacket - just from the picture I thought it looked more sporty rather than an evening wrap - maybe a more detailed picture would prove that impression to be wrong
but - just my opinion -
so not really tacky or inappropriate - as maybe just kind of out of place
It kind of looked like she had a beautiful evening gown - then realized late at night it was chilly - but she had no wrap to go with it - so she threw that one on

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 01:33 PM

I would love to see all of Vee's dress...what a fabulous figure!

Posted by vetmama 07/07/2008 at 01:34 PM


"Matt: What do you mean no decline? The true TMF would have gone 13 for 13 on breakpoints, never been broken himself, won 90% of net approaches, never missed a forehand, punished every Nadal 2nd serve, and all while committing <10 UFE. ;)"

Russ, that was soooo great.:)

I seriously think this YouTube era does some diservice to TMF. Because all you see is highlights, no one remembers the man is human after all.

PS...glad you liked the moniker. It just seemed so appropriate, considering the circumstances. Ugh!

:-)

Posted by Fran 07/07/2008 at 01:35 PM

Where are all the folks who are usually upset about Roger's losses? You all seem to be accepting oit so well.How are you doing that?

Posted by Lleytsie 07/07/2008 at 01:36 PM

STUNNED ..... really

cried a touch or Rodge, but Rafa - quite amazing mate - thoroughly well deserved

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 01:37 PM

where can I see Venus in her ball gown? And yes,what a fabulous figure she has. Especially at last year's Wimbledon in those white shorts. Those classy looking legs were ENDLEEEEEESSSSS........

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 01:37 PM

Interesting that Nadal said in a pre-final interview that winning Wimbledon would change his career. I wonder exactly what he meant by that - external change and/or internal change?

Posted by Rachael 07/07/2008 at 01:38 PM

Vee's jacket totally stripped her outfit of any elegance at all.
if she was set on wearing a blazer, well hail, there are about 500 better ways to wear one. what she did wear looked too fussy, out of place, over the wrong garment, and just un-stylish.
hopefully some photos will come out of her sans-jacket. until them I am reserving judgement on the dress.


but... props to Venus for just wearing whatever she damn wanted.

Posted by Sandra 07/07/2008 at 01:40 PM

What I find most interesting about this match is not just that Nadal won or that he won in 5 sets. What intrigues me is Nadal/Federer's next match-up on grass - will we see another 5 set match like the last 2 years, or will we see a 3 or 4 set victory for Nadal as this match almost was? That's what I'm waiting to find out.

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 01:40 PM

beth, aw sounds like you all had a good time despite Jenn being super nervous. i can imagine, that's how i was all last week with mario and marat's matches. for some reason, during the finals i'm not that nervous. i definitely started feeling it towards the end though.

but i'm glad rafa came through and i hope Jenn has calmed her nerves :)

i kind of like the jacket over dress look so i like what venus is wearing. i think she pulls it off quite well, she's got a good sense of style and a great figure.

Posted by svelterogue 07/07/2008 at 01:43 PM

i love how baseball columnists are talking about wimbledon (sher's o'hare post from last night) and today, i read an article from a certain terry who said from the word go, "tennis has got it right." he lauded the hawk-eye instant replay technology, arguing that baseball could benefit from it as well.

as we say in tagalog, galing! (swell)

highpockets, lovely poem as always.

Posted by Sandra 07/07/2008 at 01:43 PM

I just looked at Venus' Wimby ball outfit again, and I still love that jacket. I think it's a great touch that recalls the fact that this is a "sporty" ball occasion.

Posted by Jerell 07/07/2008 at 01:45 PM

I was going to post this over at Monday Net Post, but since it's not up yet, I will post the first installment of "The Real Rankings."

"Where the PC sometimes doesn't equal reality."

ATP Tour
Note:This was written before Nadal decided to intelligently pull out of Stuttgart.

1.Rafael Nadal (2) – No one in the media asked him the most important question: “Why are you playing in Stuttgart?” http://www.atptennis.com/en/common/TrackIt.asp?file=http://www.atptennis.com/1/posting/2008/321/mds.pdf

2.Roger Federer (1)- I don’t know who the journalist was yesterday (he had a heavy accent), but there was one idiot that had to ask Federer if he was “saying thanks to the rains coming down” in the third set. He also displayed stupidity by asking Nadal if he “choked” away his earlier match points.

3.Novak Djokovic (3) - Out of the three top players, you would think he and not Nadal would be scheduled to play this week. But he’s had enough of clay this year.

4.Andy Murray (9) - It still will always be a more touching moment if Tim Henman had won Wimbledon. But with the way Murray matured over the last two weeks, it would now rock all of England (and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too) if the Scot wins here in the future.

5.Marat Safin (40) - He won’t get as much credit for this as his unlikely revival, but the original Mr. Unpredictable (because David Nalbandian has taken his title) did pick Nadal to win in the final.

6.David Ferrer (4) - As the three more talented, flashier lefties got all the attention, it was another commendable effort from the premiere overachiever in the men’s game.

7.Andy Roddick (6) - The optimist will continue to say “He’s beat Federer, Nadal and Djokovic this year.” But the pessimist will say, “He’s lost to Kohlschreiber, Soderling, and now Tipsarevic as well.” And the realist may lean a little to the side of the doubter.

8.Stanislas Wawrinka (10) - Gstaad fans used to be sad when Federer started skipping the tourney a few years ago since it always comes after the big W. With Wawrinka now in the Top 10, they should be happy though this week, with him being the number one seed there.

9.Nikolay Davydenko (5) – Thanks to Nadal, Davydenko can understand how Federer feels. Because if it wasn’t for the new Wimbledon titlist, Davydenko would have won another “Are you serious?” scheduling title of the week. Because he’s actually not playing in Stuttgart, Gstaad, or Bastad. Wait, let’s see if he’s playing in Newport? He must be playing somewhere!

10.Rainer Schuettler (39)- It’s a little weird to call Schuettler, a former Top five player just 4 years ago , a ex-German number one, and a Grand Slam runner-up to Andre Agassi (though he was blown out bad in that match) a journeyman like some did. And he showed he still has something left not only in his great run to the semis, but also almost taking a set off the eventual champion.

The five wild cards:

11. Richard Gasquet- Wimbledon somehow makes us remember how talented he is despite his mental ailments.

12. Arnaud Clement -If it wasn’t for that little match on Sunday, it can be argued he was part of the match of the tournament.

13. Mario Ancic- Serve and volley tennis can still work here.

14. Lleyton Hewitt- He really wanted Federer, but after that first set, he realized again that this isn’t 2003 anymore),
15. Feliciano Lopez- Seriously, if this guy had 70% of his buddy Nadal’s heart and desire to be the best, he would be in the Top 5).

Posted by vetmama 07/07/2008 at 01:45 PM

My only sour feeling about The Championships...
Please don't take this as sour grapes, because it's truly not meant that way.

Fed's shots rely much more on timing and he has far less margin on his shots, so in a way he was unfairly penalized by the dark.

Anyone could have won this match as it came down to the wire, but I honestly believe, no matter how awesome Rafa is, that he had the advantage in the dark. And darkness isn't like rain, which the AEC can't control.

Why is it that the AEC can enter the 21st century with Hawkeye and a roof, but not lights???

(I understand that Rafa could have still won, but to have Fed fight that long and hard only to finish in the dark - it breaks my heart for him.)

Posted by suri 07/07/2008 at 01:45 PM

@Fran, i just imagined how upset roger would be after tht epic match and thot my agony is very little compared to him..
then i thought its time to support roger and believe in him to be back in the coming months..
samantha and others, thx for all the kind words..
Go Roger...

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 01:45 PM

Gabriela Valentina: there's a tinyurl link to a picture of Venus and Rafa (and Venus' outfit) posted above by sblily at 11:39 a.m.

Posted by beth - of the blondtourage 07/07/2008 at 01:46 PM

gabriela - there is a link to a picture of Rafa and Venus up thread

Posted by lightforce101 07/07/2008 at 01:46 PM

I want to believe that rafa won because i prayed for him soooo,
sooo hard and that the Lord just listened to my prayers. I even went to church (while they were still playing) after working all night, just so rafa can win... and that was a great win!!!
God is soo good..

to all my fellow rafa fans, congratulations. That made me happy!!!

to all the fedex fans, i'm proud of your man. He fought very well.
Hope they see each other in olympics and us open and produce the same great match.

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 01:49 PM

Vetmama: why does Nadal have the advantage in the dark? Wasn't it equally dark for them both and don't both have 20/20 vision (neither wears glasses or contacts)? Nadal was quoted as saying that in that last serving game that he "couldn't see nothing".

Posted by evie 07/07/2008 at 01:49 PM

Caroline, thanks. When was the BBC interview? Last night or today?

Posted by Aubrey 07/07/2008 at 01:49 PM

Did anyone else think it was a little strange that Rafa was wearing a plain ivory jacket at the final, instead of something special from Nike?

Posted by svelterogue 07/07/2008 at 01:50 PM

gab val

i'm still in belgium so it's early evening, heading into night in a few hours. we're in the same time zone, amiga :)

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 01:51 PM

i really liked the plain jacket rafa was wearing. i'd rather he wear that kind of stuff than the fancy stuff fed wears. i dunno, i like seeing the contrast of this rebel boy with the sporty clothes while next to him is the gentlemanly, classically dressed federer. it just cracks me up that they have such a clash in style but they're two of the nicest, most classy guys on tour, rafa and fed.

Posted by svelterogue 07/07/2008 at 01:52 PM

wow. i just read pete's blog entry over at espn "nadal shows courage". bravo, pete!

Posted by abbey 07/07/2008 at 01:55 PM

i have been looking at the pictures and i think one of the lasting images i would take from this match is papa federer. he just looks sincerely happy for rafa and his camp when rafa went up there to the players' box. he stood out in all the pictures. just the cutest really.

another non-tennis fan story here: i was rewatching the final at a friend's house who isn't a tennis fan. doesn't even know how the scoring works so i had to keep explaining that to her. but she was just constantly amazed at everything the two champs did out there on the court. marvelling how they were able to play like that till the very end for over 4 hours.

Posted by Jerell 07/07/2008 at 01:55 PM

Forget to explain, the number in parenthesis for the top 10 is their actual 52-week ranking. Same with what you will see with the women.

WTA Tour

1.Venus Williams (7)- In the latest episode of that tired series called “Bash the Rankings” because the casual fan won’t care about my lazy talk, Ted Robinson once again pointed out how the five-time champion will slip down one spot in the rankings after the final. Well, if Robinson cared to inform the fan why so, Venus had only one semifinal going… oh forget it.

2.Serena Williams (5)- The 962th reason why Oracene Price is a great woman: Just read the bottom of this article, if you haven’t already somewhere else: http://www.tennis.com/news/news.aspx?id=139014

3.Ana Ivanovic (1) - Thankfully this time, neither Robinson nor anyone else on NBC (or ESPN for that matter) continued sullying the WTA for the fact that Ivanovic remained number one at this tournament. And they would have looked real stupid doing that actually.

4.Maria Sharapova (3) - The agent and PR person can only do so much at IMG. Between the distasteful response to Alexander Stevenson (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3451754&name=stevenson_alexandra) and then her asking to carry the Russian flag at the Olympics (were she was easily dismissed), no one is beating this woman as “public enemy number one” right now. But she does get to move one spot higher in the rankings despite going out in the second round….

5.Elena Dementieva (6) - …. As she goes down one spot despite making her first semifinal at Wimbledon. And maybe the only person that didn’t get the memo on Dementieva not implying a Williams’ fix like originally speculated was Mr. “I only care for tennis four week a year” Flip Bondy of New York Daily News. Seriously, the NY Daily News, one of the premiere sports newspapers in the country, doesn’t have a specialized tennis writer. But they do have a specialized golf writer!

6.Jelena Jankovic (2) - Amazing how a year changes. You couldn’t even find her on the tabloid rumors. Neither could you find Jaime Murray.

7.Agnieszka Radwanska (11) - Only a mindless fool wouldn’t be happy to see the newest entrant into the Top 10 being this girl. There was nothing she could do against Serena in that second set in that quarterfinal, but that couldn’t dampen the reward for not only hard work, but being one of the smarter, original thinkers out there. And boy were those Drew Barrymore look a like comparisons coming in or what?

8.Jie Zheng (40) - If that same person wasn’t happy about Aggie’s run, then they would be a complete and utter sicko if they disapproved of the magical journey of this diminutive oriental. But there was nothing fluky about this Cinderella run. Zheng proved once again that being small in the women’s game can have its advantages along with its disadvantages. She out maneuvered and out thought Ivanovic, Agnes Szavay, and Nicole Vaidisova , and gave Serena Willaims all she could handle in that second set of their match. Plus, it gave NBC another home country star to market for the Olympics.

9.Svetlana Kuznetsova (4) – The questions literally have to be asked about the Kuzzie one right now. Coming on four years of her winning her only Grand Slam to date, Kuznetsova had another meltdown in her Round of 16 lost to the aforementioned Polish teen. So talented, let so deeply mental fragile. And if she is that, what can you say about Nadia Petrova

10.Tamarine Tanasugarn (37) – Great to see the re-emergence of this always delightful player. The 31 year old showed that if grass was the dominant surface on the tour, she would certainly indeed be a top player. With her coming back to semi-prominence, can we get a status report on Paradorn Srichaphan? I mean, we know he’s doing well with his marrage to his lovely wife, but what about the tennis?

The five Wild Cards:

11. Vaidisova- A needed kick start to right her sinking ship.
12. Petrova- who knows about the head of this woman, but she did ware Venus “Eleven” controlling line
13. Anna Chadvetadze- See Vadisova, though you could understand why she’s struggle if you know, which you should by now because even Bondy wrote about it.
14.Szavay
15. Alisa Kleybanova/Alla Kudryavtseva- Talented pair of Russians who showed both their impressive skills and their holes in their games that needs improvement.

Two sepcial enteries:
Bethanie Mattek: The only American into the second round in the singles disclipine besides the Williams sisters. And she is getting better by the day

Laura Robson: The only thing sad about this wonderful 14 year old sudden rise is all the pressure and attention she will now get to finally give Britain a prominent women’s tennis player. But between the moxy she showed in winning the girls’ title, and her decorum after the match (from her hopes of having Marat Safin be her date at the Wimbledon ball or saying “I’m going to take her down” in response to her question on what she would do against Venus Williams, was a wonderful joy to behold. Definitely wish her well in the future. She has star potential for sure.

Posted by beth - of the blondtourage 07/07/2008 at 01:58 PM

about the light thing - I imagine that the tournament officials were under considerable pressure to complete the match if at all possible - what with television money and the spectators there .
So - they had little choice but to make use of the existing light
as for who is favored , since both men are out in the dark - I would think the server would be favored , as opposed to the returner. Because the server is in control of his own destiny - and can catch the toss if he is not happy with it.
The returner must react .
That would favor Federer - as he is usually acknowledged as having a better serve .
When he got broken - and Nadal dealt with the bad light - then the favor switched to Nadal.

The same thing happened to Gasquet . but the All England club chose to continue and finish the match in the dark . He acknowledged that both men had the same light .

Posted by abbey 07/07/2008 at 01:59 PM

hello, gab! how is it in spain? is everyone in euphoria? what's the news like? when is rafa expected to get back there? will he be treated to a special fete?

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:00 PM

Jerell: after only a quick first reading of your list I can't think of anything on it to seriously take you to task for. It pretty much sums up what we have seen. I agree with you certainly about Flpoez, my own particularly dear headcase (if being a spectacular underachiever qualifies as a symptom for that condition)

BUT!! I would still place Fed as No. 1 and not Rafa. I can't understand this haste to be "off with the old and on with the new" that grips everyone after a GS. I am super exultant for Rafa personally and also because of what his win means to Spain in terms of promoting sport and national pride(we're a country with a shaky national identity at times). But a little perspective here,please. Rafa has ONE Wimbledon title under his Nike bandana and Fed has FIVE!!! (that means 5 afternoons like yesterday's for goodness sake! in which he WON)

Nadal has five GS's and Fed has TWELVE! That's more than twice as many. In a few weeks the AO will again separate the men from the boys. Do even the hardest core Rafa fans think he can win there?

Rafa may one day be the real indisputable number One but it hasn't happened yet. We still have that joy to look forward to!

Posted by Ruth 07/07/2008 at 02:01 PM

sandra and jackie: I'm glad that I'm not the only one who loves Venus's jacket. It seems a perfect choice now that the "champions' ball" has become the "champions' dinner."

And, surprisingly, it's something that I could see myself wearing (without the crest, maybe) both in my 20's and at my current advanced age. But, they probably don't make it in my size! :) Well, maybe my slim, teenaged niece, who loves the eleVen t-shirts that I gave her, would like to have one of those jackets.

Posted by May – I ain't a fan of the World Number One, just of Roger 07/07/2008 at 02:03 PM

What is a Roger fan supposed to feel today? With all the respect and admiration for Rafa – even sneaking affection, the kid was so happy – it’s still devastating. I was crying a bit this morning, and it didn't become better when a dear friend, eager to help, told me that he hoped I would never have a worse reason for grief. You can guess how much THIS helped. And then I spent a considerable time talking to another sympathetic friend about how all sports, including the tennis, should be banned because they cause such heartbreak to losing athletes (strangely enough, I never felt so when Roger was the winner…)

It's a painful mixture of feelings, but the one thing that keeps surfing his Roger's simple 'it hurts'. After all is said and done, I don't want him to hurt, ever, for any reason. But this is a gift – or a curse- we can't grant our favorite players. Neither Roger nor Rafa nor anybody else we follow with enthusiastic love is immune to sorrow. Let it be only on the tennis court! The sorrows which make you tear up easily, are usually the easiest to bear in the long run.

Darn it, I guess my comforter-from-the-morning was actually sort of right… if only nothing worse ever happen to Roger.

All the same, there will always be some pain associated with match – for Federer and for all his fans. And for now, I don’t wish to be rid quickly of this pain. Not as long as he can't shake some of it off.

Posted by suri 07/07/2008 at 02:04 PM

very well said gabriela, hope evry1 is that matured..

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:09 PM

Hi there ABBEY! I saw you last night posting on here but I guess you didn't catch me. It was great. Even here in Sevilla(no great tennis capital of the world, believe me) when Rafa hit the grass, I heard a huge roar float across the river from all the bars there where I guess people were all watching and partying the way they would normally do for football.
There was a huge town fiesta and all night revelry in Rafa's home town and environs.that much I do know.

I know you and Svelte Rouge were deliriously happy and that made me feel great too as if we were all accomplices in some conspiracy (ha,ha,ha).

The TV is saying that Rafa is not playing in Stuttgart because of the knee injury he had when he fell sometime in the 3rd set. It doesn't say anything about it's being serious only that rafa needs to take care of it. He won't be playing in Stuttgart but he is going to be there because he had promised the organisers that he would. That happened once in China when although he didn't play he went even though he was hobbling on crutches.

What is the Filipino press saying about our Rafa? Hope it's good and that there is still some affection there for the old "madre patria"....

Posted by marron 07/07/2008 at 02:11 PM

beth, thank you very much for your levelheaded response to the light question. I was trying very hard not to get bristly with vetmama's comment, as I so respect her. It did sound a tad 'sour grapey' to me, vetmama, I know you didn't mean it that way at all, but I couldn't see how the fading light would somehow affect one player more than the other.
OK, my hackles are down now, lol.

Peace.

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

Ms. Gabriela V,

Thank you for the support. And I understand (and share a little) in your frustration with how everyone is quickly writing off Federer as not being number one anymore and giving Nadal that spot. It fact, it makes me sick how some writers have tried to say this is a "dark moment" for Federer and all of this, where the man was part of arguably the greatest match in history.

But I just have to give the Top spot to Nadal, you just have too.
If it makes you feel better, I will consider calling them co-number ones.

In fact, I think I will do just that since everyone has placed Nadal 1 and Fed 2, including me, lol.

Posted by Master Ace 07/07/2008 at 02:13 PM

Gabriela Valentina,
Guess Jerell has Rafa number 1 for his 2008 results to date
Final - Chennai Semifinal - Australian Open
Semifinal - Indian Wells Final - Key Biscayne
Titles - Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg, French Open, Queens, Wimbledon.

56 wins - 7 losses
24 match win streak
Number 1 in 2008 race
First man to do French Open/Wimbledon since Borg in 1980
First Spainard to win Wimbledon since Santana in 1966
4-time French Open Champion
Wimbledon Champion

Posted by Rachael 07/07/2008 at 02:13 PM

I'm a little late to the party, forgive me as I am only just watching the conclusion - but that pass Nadal made to go 8-7 in the 4th set TB....

I may never need to see another shot played in my life.
although I have a feeling it's only going to get better from here.


oh wait, it did get better, at 8-8. *fans self*

also enjoyed how Mirka threw her arms upright at 9-8, as if she were on a literal rollercoaster.

Posted by Samantha Elin 07/07/2008 at 02:14 PM

Thanks Tari, this was the first time I saw Zheng play and I was really impressed wtih her. Here is how I rank the top women. I see the Williamses, Ivanovic, and Sharapova on level 1, below them are Jankovic, Aggie, Kuzzy. It's very hard to rank them when you really have no dominant player.Ciao!

Posted by abbey 07/07/2008 at 02:17 PM

gab, spain must be on top of the world right now with all it's sports successes.

i'm glad he pulled out of stuttgart. i'm confident there's nothing seriously bad about the knee. the boy just needs a rest.

the match ended here at 4:30 this morning, so the news on the papers won't be coming out till tomorrow. i'm looking forward to checking out all the newspapers as i get all of them at the office. :)

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:18 PM

SVELTE ROUGE: (gabriela knocks forehead against desk three times) I should have known that.Sorry,I forgot that you are there in the land which thinks it invented "french"fries.

I read about your son hiding behind the sofa(I hope I'm getting that right or you will have to certify me with a galloping case of Alzheimer's)..that WAS funny.

Isn't all this wonderful? Our "little" Rafa!! (remember,I first saw him LIVE when he was 18 and helped win the Davis Cup from the U.S. here in Sevilla. He was like the mascot of the team then.Was that all of 4 years ago?

I hope we can enjoy Rafa's victory for a few weeks before US Open because that will not be the garden party Queens and most of Wimbledon was.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 02:20 PM

Jerell: I agree with you. I think it's a bit uncomfortable, because Roger is the world number one in the rankings...until he's not. But Nadal is clearly the top player right now. So, in a "real" ranking, as to how everyone is playing...he is number one.

As a Fed fan, I kind of hope Rafa takes the top spot soon (and then loses it again quickly to Fed, lol), just so this discomfort goes away. I'll wince every time I hear this until these two positions align again. :)

Posted by tcool 07/07/2008 at 02:20 PM

I am a Rafa fan first and foremost, so I was so happy that he won. I have always liked and admired and respected Roger, but I didn't love him. His brilliance and genius as a tennis player always left me kind of cold even as my brain acknowledged his greatness. That is not true any longer. Roger showed so much heart and guts and you could tell how much he wanted this. Rafa had to wrench the trophy from Roger's grip. As happy as I was for Rafa, I surprisd myself at how bad I felt for Roger. He WILL oneday surpass Pete's grand slam record and I will stand and applaud because he is indeed a worthy successor of that record. I think his(still continuing) streak of semi-final appearances will be something that will stand out in tennis history far more than weeks at number one or number of grand slam wins. I even now hope he gets a French open win. Of course, I am greedy and want Rafa to get a hardcourt grand slam now. Congratulations to Rafa for finally getting what he wanted most and congratulations to Roger for everything he has accomplished already and will accomplish in the future.

Posted by abbey 07/07/2008 at 02:23 PM

tari, as a rafa fan, i don't mind at all rafa getting the no. 1 spot and losing it right away to roger again. i actually see this scenario happening as very very likely.

Posted by Master Ace 07/07/2008 at 02:25 PM

Jerell,
On the WTA wildcards, you have Kleybanova/Kudryavtseva for their good work at Wimbledon. How about Carla Suarez Navarro for her QF run in the French Open making into the main draw as a qualifier, Kaia Kanepi into the QF for her run at the French and Marta Domachowska for making it to the QF at the Australian Open. For the first 7 ladies, I may have ranked them a little differently but overall, I do not have a solid argument on how they were ranked. Also, I would have put Dinara Safina at 8 just ahead of Svetlana. Jie Zheng and Tamarine Tanasugarn should have been placed in the wildcard area but if they repeat their Wimby performance at the USO, their Top 10 placement is justified.

Posted by Ruth 07/07/2008 at 02:27 PM

Here's a link to a picture with more of Venus's dress, anon.
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/slideshow

I know that the twilight pictures and the fluttering camera lights were all terribly dramatic, but dare I hope that Wimby will add lights to Center court when they add the roof? That would certainly help them to do more catching up in their covered stadium when there are rain delays.

At present, just being able to schedule the usual two men's and one women's match (per day) in one covered, but unlighted, stadium would not be such a big help in a year like last year -- and other years that were worse (weather-wise) than 2007.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 02:29 PM

tcool...and all the Rafa fans that posted similar to this...gosh, you guys are making me cry. In a good way. :) What beautiful hearts you have. Thank you.

I have felt for Roger's opponents in the past, but I haven't had this "conversion" about any of them. Again, it just says a lot about these posters to me. Really, really in awe.

Posted by suri 07/07/2008 at 02:31 PM

i guess tht is why we have some thing called ATP RACE to tell who is top form till this date and nadal is very much ahead of every one in the RACE and he is number one in RACE.
coming to rankings, we may not keep giving them away every quarter which makes nole numer one in first quarters, rafa number one in first half and who knows what happens in next few months, so i guess they are good as they are now..

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:32 PM

JERELL: I am a rabid Rafa fan but the guy has not yet earned the no.1 spot though you generously want to give it to him.(BTW;I said the AO is a few weeks away and I meant,obviously , the US Open!!)

MASTER ACE,I understand if we are referring to the achievements of only the last 6 or 7 months that rafa may be on top(for the moment) but I think a truer picture of where a player stands is only seen if you look at his overall achievemnets. After dominating the scene for 5 or 6 years it is not fair to judge only six months.

I want Rafa to become the Number One the same way Federer did. I would even like him to out- do Federer and to win at least once at all the GS's. I don't think it is so important how many grandslams a player wins(which is why I ignore all the chatter about Feder's not being great till he wins one more GS than Sampras has). Greatness can't be proven that way. It's not numerical. Pete Bodo got near the truth when he wrote that it has something to do with making ALL the surfaces seem a place where a player can win playing his tennis. A player who can do that is truly great. I think only Fed,so far and Borg before him, has come the closest and I hope that one day Rafa will go beyond them. That's what I look forward to and not to chalking up GS's like notches on a pistol.

Posted by 2h4h 07/07/2008 at 02:33 PM

"Posted by abbey 07/07/2008 @ 2:23 PM

tari, as a rafa fan, i don't mind at all rafa getting the no. 1 spot and losing it right away to roger again. i actually see this scenario happening as very very likely."

It is very likely to happen just before the Tennis Masters Cup (TMC). The way TMC is set up, just before TMC starts, all the points from the previous TMC come off; this means Fed's 650 points and Rafa's 200 points come off, potentially leaving Rafa at No. 1 (perhaps for the second time this year). Strange :-)

Posted by Backhand blaster 07/07/2008 at 02:40 PM

My two cents: Great match yesterday for all concerned. Did anyone notice that Rafa's much talked about improved slice backhand was routinely pounded for winners by Federer almost every time he used it, which was too often. Gutsy win for Rafa. Brutally tough loss for Federer. Can't wait for the hard court season!

Posted by Christopher 07/07/2008 at 02:41 PM

With regards to the dark and the players' eyesight, I believe Roger does actually wear contacts (don't know where I read that). I don't, however, buy into the idea that Roger's game is more based on perfect timing in terms of ball-striking than is Nadal's. The phenomenal topspin Nadal produces requires massive racket head speed, more than Fed uses, and that takes perfect timing as well. I suppose it was an advantage that Nadal was serving that last game, but Federer served the game before that, etc. I think the dark was unfortunate but I don't think it's a factor worth spending more time discussing (as Roger himself said).

Posted by . 07/07/2008 at 02:43 PM

Federer is a great champion ; He played great yesterday; but he need not whine about bad light ; he got the benefit of rain delays to recover or else he might have lost the third set and the match ; and he benefited last year at the wimbledon final from nadal’s knee injury ! Fedex is an outstanding No 1 player ; he will remain no 1 and will also win more grand slams ; but he has proved vulnerable as Djokovic says ; and nadal looks more like the no 1 now whatever the computer says !

Besides, nadal has always been modest and polite ; and feder has appeared arrogant at times, unnecessarily ; because he is a great champion ;

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:43 PM

MASTER ACE: just a slight correction in your list of Rafa's achievements:

He is only the second person in Tennis History to take RG-Queens - Wimbledon in that order (or any order) in the same year. I think maybe only Rod Laver did it before.

Rafa is the 3rd Spaniard to take Wimbledon not the second.
1. Santana 1966
2. Conchita Martinez 1993 (or- 94) against the one and mighty NAVRATILOVA
(Conchita may be a woman but she's a Spaniard and a tennis player)

Master Ace,if you are a rafa fan then you must be on top of the world right now,no? I certainly am (ha.ha) and I hope it shows. Vamos Rafa!!

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:47 PM

CHRISTOPHER: re the bad light etc extremely well said. A very reasonable post . Good sense and good sportsmanship. Kudos!!

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:50 PM

RUTH: greetings! I've been begging for about an hour for a link to that dress but you are the first person who has bothered to put one up. Thanks so much even if it was meant for some anonymous person and not for me. gracias.

Posted by Master Ace 07/07/2008 at 02:51 PM

Gabriela Valentina,
Thanks on the Spainard issue. Rafa being the first ATP person to win Wimby since Santana. I was surprised that Conchita beat Martina Navratilova to win Wimby that year since Spain did not like to play on grass in that decade.
I will look into Rod Laver acheivements. Heard the commentators say something about it. Could be first player in Open era to do as Laver played before and after the Open Era.

I am no fan of any player, just a tennis fan overall.

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 02:54 PM

Caroline, where did you read that quote about Federer? I'd love to see the source.

I'm still hunting down the french portion of his interview transcript (and any others there may be). Does anyone have a link or a translation to English?

Tari, I'm with you in wincing every time Rafa is called #1 player right now, because in my heart of hearts I know that he is the best right now, but I want it to be formal before we proclaim it to be so. I've always wanted Rafa to get a Wimbledon title (but why, sob, this one??) and a #1 ranking at some point, so I guess there's one to more to go.
Thanks for the hugs :)

Posted by harini 07/07/2008 at 02:56 PM

rafa looks dashing in his tux holding that trophy. it always surprises my friends (who think he's cute) that he's only 22.
on a side note, i showed my mother the Olympics book and we had a great time looking at the tennis players dressed up as different spots' athletes. ferru is still the favourite with rafa coming a close second.

venus's jacket looks all right in these other angles, not as good as it did up there. i still dig it :)

ok i severely need a nap so i'm off. hope everyone has a good rest of the day.

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 02:56 PM

to BACKHAND BLASTER: yes,I noticed that thing about rafa's backhand being overcome by Roger's amazing prowess and as a matter of fact I have re watched the whole match and I noticed a lot more things too but what I noticed the most was who won at the end with the shots that it took to pull that off when it counted most. Rafa stuck to his game,his style,his mode and won.

Posted by Jerell 07/07/2008 at 03:01 PM

Master Ace,

appreciate the interest.
When these rankings are done, they are really based on who is the best player in the moment, factored in by rewarding players such as Zheng and Tanasurgan for tremendous weeks.

Realistically, of course Zheng and Tanasurgan aren't Top 10 players based on their years, and neither is Kleybanova and Kudryavtseva Top 15 players. But based on their performances, it's a combination of who are the best players and who were the hot, in-form one in the preceeding week.

If I had started the Rankings after the French Open, then yes, Navarro and Knaepi would have made it in the 15.

Posted by vv varaiyya 07/07/2008 at 03:01 PM

I estimate 60-70% of rallies > 4 strokes were won by Nadal.

Roger is a smart man. Time and time again he tried to shorten the points. Nadal's lefty forehand pinned Roger to the backhand corner too many times.

Enjoyable final... kudos to both players. Nadal will not have the same success on the hard courts.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 03:01 PM

I don't think vetmama was lacking in sportsmanship, for goodness sakes, for mentioning that she thought the darkness would affect Roger more. Nobody knows for sure, right? :) That said, I think all of us realize the two players had the same conditions to play in. And we have a more than worthy winner. :)

Posted by Backhand blaster 07/07/2008 at 03:02 PM

gabriela valentina: I agree with your comment. Rafa hit the shots he needed in the end, but Federer was right there too, playing unbelievable tennis. I wonder if Rafa will play at the same level on the hard courts? I know Federer will have a lot of motivation going into the US Open.

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 03:03 PM

Just worked up the courage to go to rf.com, and have you guys seen this?

===
ATP - DOUBLES WITH STAN IN BEIJING


Swiss Olympic has selected four players for the Olympic Games in Bejing this summer. Roger and Stanislas Warinka will compete in the men's singles, Patty Schnyder and Timea Bacsinszky will take part in the women's competition.

Roger will also play the doubles tournament. His partner is Stanislas and not Yves Allegro, as might have been expected. Severin Lüthi, captain of the Swiss Davis Cup Team, explained: "We are convinced that this line-up is the one we have the best chances with."
===

Is Roger playing any exos before Rogers Cup?

But just being there on his website makes me tear up. This is hitting me harder than any loss so far even though I'm _sure_ Roger will bounce back, and soon. His fans just like him just need time, I guess.

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 03:03 PM

MASTER ACE: Spanish players haven't LIKED playing on grass at ANY period. Ha,ha. Among themselves they have a saying that grass is strictly for the cows. But playing at Wimbledon is an unavoidable must for anyone who has pretensions to being a top seeded player so they all have had to try. FLopez could actually be good at it but he's too busy being a pretty boy and having fun so I don't think he'll ever take it seriously.

Spanish Wimbledon finalists who made it to the end but didn't win::

-Lily Alvarez(three times)
-Arantxa Sanchez Vicario twice (both against the great Steffi Graff and one of those times
it was really close!)

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 03:05 PM

" I know Federer will have a lot of motivation going into the US Open."

I hope so, Backhand blaster. (and welcome back!) I actually hope this loss takes some of the pressure off of Roger...I know, probably a futile hope. :) But I can't help thinking that he might
be able to relax if he is not the favorite anymore.

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 03:07 PM

Tari I think the pressure for year-end number one will still be there, but Roger deals great with big pressure, imo. But he does need success in the hard court season, that's for sure.

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 03:07 PM

BACKHAND B....(smiles) hello!

I don't think it is a rafa win at US Open is realistic.I don't even think he'll make the final. I do think that people might have to remember to put Djokovic back into the equation again at this time.

Posted by felizjulianidad 07/07/2008 at 03:08 PM

The remainder of 2008 is going to be just as fascinating as the first half of it was.

(In order of ranking)
Federer: he is still the number one, but has a significant amount of points to defend from now on (USO win, one Masters win and one final, which add up to 1850). Great as he is on all surfaces, he should still perform to high standard in the hard court season. However, Nadal and Djokovic have both shown that they deserve equal odds against him, and he certainly must be bruised. He was able to shrug off the shipwreck in the FO by claiming it was his least favourite surface, and could always point to his awe-inspiring streak on grass. Come Halle and Wimbledon, he certainly showed why he's been so hard to beat there, giving a financially free (but vaingloriously costly) tennis lesson to anyone who dared get on the other side of the net. In the final, he fired every single weapon in his arsenal at Nadal and found a perseverance that few had seen in him, though ultimately it wasn't enough. The ultimate question is: how is his mind? His tennis skills are unquestionably top notch, but if he loses his mental edge (as many suggest), he very well may fail to defend his 1850 US hardcourt points.

Nadal: he can either flop like he usually does in the US hardcourt season, or continue to demonstrate his constant improvement this year. Nadal was the second-best hardcourt player in the spring, with results that were consistently "close, but no cigar". Nadal defends a risible amount of points (4th round USO, one MS SF, one MS 2nd round)--totalling something like 425? Considering how much Federer has to defend, a "close, but no cigar" this time around just may do the trick to become the best player in the world for he past 52 weeks. He certainly has been for the past 26. Nadal is unlikely to rest on his laurels after Wimbledon, and we already saw how well he handles the pressure of being the favourite (he already had two matches in the spring where, if he lost to Djokovic, they'd trade spots) and both times he sent the Serb packing. His challenges are: stay healthy, keep hugging the baseline, flatter forehands, and most importantly, adapt his serve to hardcourts like he did with grass.

Djokovic: his 2nd round crash at Wimbledon has put him out of the picture for most people. However, Djokovic has shown that he is at his most dangerous when he is the challenger, as opposed to the favourite. His best moments against Nadal in the FO were when the match seemed so lost that Djokovic relaxed his forehand and let it rip. With everyone talking about Nadal and Federer now, Djokovic is bound to want some of the spotlight and will be relieved of the pressure of being "the new number one", as he is effectively out of that discussion until, pending good results in the US tour, the European indoor season arrives. Djokovic is defending one USO final, one MS win and one 2nd round loss (when Carles Moyà pitched his "been there, done that" wily experience against an overly euphoric Djokovic, in what was the beginning of the "Djokovic can't win back to back tournaments" thought current). He has at least 1200 points to defend, which should be his goal, since at this point he seems unlikely to catch Nadal, nor lose his spot to Ferrer or Davydenko. His fall indoor season is considerably easier to improve upon, and may put him as a surprise fighter in the year's end.

Ferrer: Ferrer is not a GS contender and he will likely never go higher than his current ranking (4). His jump into being a Top 10 regular took place last fall, when he defeated Andy Roddick in a warmup to the US O before taking 450 points in a raid to the SF. His goal should be to stay within the top 10 and qualify for the Master's Cup in Shanghai, so he should at least try to reach the 4rh round or QF of the USO. Most observers consider last year's SF appearance an overachievement from one of the ATP's hardest and most consistent workers. As the best defensive hardcourter of 2007, Ferrer should make the quarterfinals of most tournaments he plays from now until whenever it is that he begins to slip.

Davydenko: another perennial toptenner who will likely never win a GS, Davydenko's professional goal should simply be to make the most he can out of his tour appearances. This money should come from reaching SF berths with his solid groundstrokes, and not from any more online betting scandals.

Roddick: the ever-confident hardcourt specialist should be licking his lips at the chance to serve the lights out and wrap matches up before any tennis can actually be played. He did not go deep into any tournaments last year and his goal should be at least one title and to justify, with his ranking and results, why the American media lumps him together so often with the three players who, on average, double his ATP Tour points.

Gasquet: not catch a cold during the USO.

Nalbandián, Blake, Moyà and other talented veterans should aim to stay relevant amidst rising stars like Tsonga, Wawrinka, Almagro and Gulbis.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 03:11 PM

gabriela: I really don't think people will forget Djoko's talents on hard courts. In fact, I expect him to be the favorite for the USO...unless something unexpected happens in between, like Roger or Rafa going on an impressive hard court streak.

Sher: True, that. He's been so unbelievably consistent under enormous pressure, our guy. Dang. I feel better just now. :)

Posted by tcool 07/07/2008 at 03:14 PM

I don't play tennis myself; I only love to watch it. If Rafa's backhand slice didn't look all that effective against Roger, was the wind a factor or did it just lack bite because it wasn't very good on that particular day?

Posted by 1221 07/07/2008 at 03:15 PM

oh guys, re: olympics, tennis matches will not be played at the stadium where TMC is played; that court is in Shanghai, whereas the Olympics as we all know is at Beijing, they built a new one its shaped like a fower if im not mistaken, but a harcourt nonetheless.

Posted by JR 07/07/2008 at 03:15 PM

I guess our local (Hartford CT) columnist has written about tennis before, I’m not sure. But he did today. He raved about the match. “What do we get for the 4th of July weekend? Fireworks. An epic. We get, Wow!”
Another writer from the same paper: “The most underrated rivalry in sports gripped the crowd at the All England Club....Think the world will be paying closer attention as the tennis world moves forward ? The sport is a lot more captivating today.”
This, along with the joy I knew Rafa’s win would bring to so many here, eased the pain. (I also helps that like and admire Rafa so much.)

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 03:17 PM

I wake up an unholy hour - it is amost 3 AM where I am, close to 24 hours after staying up to watch a glorious Wimbledon final played all the way to some minutes past 4 AM on a hot Monday morning. The last time I stayed up for a tennis match into the wee hours of the morning was to watch Hewitt defeat Bahgdatis in a 5 set thriller at the Aussie open in January.

Before I drift off to sleep again - from Manila, many, many thanks again, Rosangel, for sharing with us in detail your days at SW19 this year. I am so very glad you went to see the gentlemen's finals!... for you, and for us at TW waiting to hear from you, haha. I was not aware you had plans of not attending, having not visited TW as often as I would have wanted throughout the fortnight.

Nadal has withdrawn from Stuttgart, but it was very nice of him to go to the venue to personally inform tournament officials of his decision to withdraw.



Posted by evie 07/07/2008 at 03:18 PM

This seems to be the BBC interview Caroline was talking about (scroll down for Fed's video):

http://tinyurl.com/5j48a


Posted by Vincent 07/07/2008 at 03:18 PM

Thank you Christopher. Beautifully written.

Did I already say I didn't watch the match ?

In Germany, the channel which usually broadcasts Wimbledon apparently hadn't the rights this year. I didn't want to buy Wimbledon Live. Partly because of superstition, partly because I didn't want to regret it if it was only to see Nadal's triumph. Anyway I didn't watch it, followed it only with the live scoreboard. Those were some of the most stressful hours of my life, and I've been in stressful situations before. The way I see it, it'll take years before I decide to watch this. Perhaps never.

This morning I woke up with this feeling of numbness already mentioned by others. Did Roger really lose this, 9-7 in the fifth ? I knew I shouldn't have watched the news. Seeing Rafa sacrifying to this stupid trophy-biting tradition, seeing him at the Champion's Dinner... It makes you realise in more direct ways... That it's over. And then there were the pictures of Federer crying, too. Why did I read this ?

Of course it's stupid to care so much about something which has practically zero impact on your everyday life. Life goes on. But if ever I wanted to turn back the clock, it is right now.

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 03:19 PM

hello TARI(I ws worried bout you yesterday but later I read that your absence had nothing to do with nerves,fear or unbearable sadness. You Fed fans are made of sterner stuff than that (glad to see).
We are all so wrapped up in the Rafa/Roger dychotomy that the Djoker seemed to have vanished into thin air. I hope to see an improved Rafa at hard court but frankly the ground he has to cover is too much. If it comes to Fed vs Djoko I definitely want Fed to take this US Open!

Posted by Dee 07/07/2008 at 03:20 PM

Ooops, 07/07/2008 @ 3:17 PM was me, reposting again.

I wake up an unholy hour - it is amost 3 AM where I am, close to 24 hours after staying up to watch a glorious Wimbledon final played all the way to some minutes past 4 AM on a hot Monday morning. The last time I stayed up for a tennis match into the wee hours of the morning was to watch Hewitt defeat Bahgdatis in a 5 set thriller at the Aussie open in January.

Before I drift off to sleep again - from Manila, many, many thanks again, Rosangel, for sharing with us in detail your days at SW19 this year. I am so very glad you went to see the gentlemen's finals!... for you, and for us at TW waiting to hear from you, haha. I was not aware you had plans of not attending, having not visited TW as often as I would have wanted throughout the fortnight.

Nadal has withdrawn from Stuttgart, but it was very nice of him to go to the venue to personally inform tournament officials of his decision to withdraw.

Posted by Nancy 07/07/2008 at 03:21 PM

aww Sher *hugs*
you know time heals everything and even though losing sucks, that was one for the books , i think every Fed fan should be so proud of him and it's not the end of his career ( heck he proved to everyone who doubted him that he is sooooooo ON and he is not going anywhere)
for Christ sake , this match got my father and my brother to watch tennis which before yesterday didn't exist to them , now thanks to Roger , my father is going to give me a headache every time tennis is on as he'll be cheering for (in his own words) " the skinny artistic guy" and i just found out that my brother will be cheering - from now on - for (in his own words) "the tennis hulk"

so Rog and Rafa thanks a lot for making the impossible happen
though i might regret the fact that now they are interested in tennis

can't wait to see what will happen in HC season

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 03:24 PM

gabriela: I know you were worried. That was so sweet of you! I think (at least I hope) that Roger will gain some "underdog" fans now going into the next slams. Would be so nice to see!

I don't underestimate Rafa on any surface. I remember 2005 and early 2006 quite well. :) I'm glad to hear you'll root for Rog against Djoko!

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 03:24 PM

JR : loved your post -short but oh so sweet.

(knocking off now. been on too long as it is.)

Posted by Ruth 07/07/2008 at 03:24 PM

Golf and tennis just may be the only sports that base their published rankings on a year or more of established results rather than on the events played since the start of a season or a calendar year.

I like the tennis system mainly because it gets avoids the "what have you done for me lately?" aspect of some ranking systems. I'm sure that it can be confusing to casual tennis viewers when they read a lot about a player winning the most publicized Slam and still, often, not being recognized as #1 in his/her sport.

But, while I care a lot about casual fans (whose interest in and viewing of tennis will always affect how much tennis is available to all of us), I think that it is not too much to ask that these fans respect the more meaningful 52-week-performance-based rankings. If they wish, they can also enjoy the Race (January to present) rankings that both tours now present on their web sites.

Posted by gabriela valentina 07/07/2008 at 03:26 PM

TARI: re Fed vs Djoko.Never you doubt it!! If Rafa didn't exist then I would be the No 1 FED KAD here.

I'm going off now. Gotta get a life.

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 03:26 PM

Vincent: I'm so sorry.

Posted by Whitney 07/07/2008 at 03:28 PM

Hey all. I got online to check email - and of course I had to drop by TW.

Thanks Sherlock for the kind words on the other thread and for checking up on me today. That brought a smile to my face when I saw my name in your posts. :)

I haven't watched anything even related to tennis today except I was flipping through channels earlier and came across Andy Roddick yelling at Fergus Murphy on some random 2005 TC replay. I started laughing (for some reason he makes me laugh when he gets all worked up) but soon turned it since I could tell Andy was about to lose.

Does anyone know the tv schedule for Toronto and Cincy? Is it on ESPN2?

Posted by JJon1802 07/07/2008 at 03:34 PM

RIP: Real Grass-court Tennis at SW19.

Sadly, welcome to the era of Green Clay.

Posted by svelterogue 07/07/2008 at 03:36 PM

anon at 15.17

is that you, appledeuce?

gab val

yes, it was my older son hiding behind the sofa after my prolonged scream that even the neighbours heard! (i found out a few hours ago when we bumped into each other at the bus stop to wait for our kids to come home from summer camp) my husband thinks that we fans suffer more than the players actually do. he shakes his head at me all the time. by the way, i was the underdog in last night's final as both husband and hiding son were rooting for roger. :)

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 03:36 PM

Here are some of the things said in french, with very rough translation provided:

===
Est-ce une immense déception?
Is it a huge disappointment?

RF: "C'est de loin ma plus dure défaite."
RF: "This is by far my toughest defeat."

Que ressentez-vous, en ce moment?
How do you feel at this moment?

RF: "Rien. Pas grand chose."
RF: "Nothing. Not much."

Et perdre contre un joueur comme Nadal, ce n'est pas une consolation?
And lose against a player like Nadal, this is not a consolation?

RF: "Non. Zéro. Le match est fini, je suis déçu, je suis cassé. C'était sans doute un très beau match à voir. Mais là... Il faut laisser un peu de temps et essayer de recommencer à bien jouer dans le futur."
RF: "No. Zero. The match is finished, I am disappointed, I am broken. It was without doubt a very beautiful match to see. ... But there must be allowed a little time and try to start well play in the future. "

Vous êtes encore plus déçus qu'après votre défaite à Paris?
You are even more disappointed after your defeat in Paris?

RF: "Il n'y a pas de comparaison possible. Ici, c'est le désastre. A Paris, c'était rien. Au contraire. Vous êtes peut-être contents du match. Pas moi..."
RF: "There is no comparison possible. Here is the disaster. In Paris, it was nothing. On the contrary. You may be happy with the match. Not me ..."

Désormais, Nadal menace votre statut de N.1...
Now, Nadal threatens your status N.1 ...

RF: "Ecrivez ce que vous voulez. Moi je vais essayer de recommencer à bien jouer, de gagner les jeux Olympiques et l'US Open."
RF: "Write what you want. I will try again to play well, win the Olympics and the U.S. Open."
===

Posted by avid sports fan 07/07/2008 at 03:40 PM

Hello everyone - I still cannot believe that I am still filled with mixed emotions from yesterday. I tip my hat to both Roger and Rafael

Nancy - LOL Your house is going to be a wrestling ring with your dad cheering for the "skinny artistic guy" LOL and your brother cheering for the "tennis hulk" LOL. I wonder where that leaves you with Nalby ;-), right in the middle, no?

Hey Whitney - How is the unpacking going? I hate moving LOL. I like the fact that the Andy clip brought a smile to your face today :)

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 03:40 PM

Oh, Sher...if that is an accurate translation, you can see that he felt the media wanted this result...at least, that's my take, and that he is very disillusioned with them. Pretty heartbreaking stuff.

Of course, that could just be me projecting. I am certainly not above that. LOL.

Thanks for that snippet. :)

Posted by suri 07/07/2008 at 03:40 PM

sher, thx for the translation, i liked this part...
"Write what you want. I will try again to play well, win the Olympics and the U.S. Open."
what else can he say even after playing that good last night..

Posted by Dee 07/07/2008 at 03:41 PM

felizjulianidad, nice analysis. My comments -

Federer - Spot-on on his perseverance to avoid losing to Nadal in straight sets in a GS final and give us a finals of all finals (arguably) ever seen at Wimbledon. However, I cannot forget the expression on his face in the dying minutes of yesterday's match. Yes, there is a crack in the mental strength, but it is repairable.

Nadal - He always gives his best in any tournament, regardless of the surface. As he says, "I will do my best, we will see." :-)

Djokovic - Agree. He will be hungrier now, out to prove he is still on equal footing with the two greatest players today. Such is his belief in himself!

Posted by Tari 07/07/2008 at 03:41 PM

avid: You have mixed emotions? How so, if you don't mind?

Posted by svelterogue 07/07/2008 at 03:45 PM

where are my serbian co-nole fans?

going into the USO, i'll be pulling for nole to get his second major for 2008. ajde! (it seems like ages since i said that last)

i just remembered that he had his heart broken in round 2 last week... a broken heart is still a broken heart.

Posted by avid sports fan 07/07/2008 at 03:45 PM

Tari - Being a Rafa fan, I wanted Rafa to win. But being someone who loves and also respects Roger, I could not celebrate the win as I would have loved. Him losing and seeing the way he took it brought tears to my eyes. So even though I am so happy for Rafa, I really am sad for Roger.

Posted by Syd 07/07/2008 at 03:45 PM

Ros:

* 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. *

I can also honestly say, that after this statement, my respect for you, already high, has soared. Thank you so much.

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 03:46 PM

I think he was really dissapointed with the way media was killing him before Wimbledon. It's not that he didn't expect rough treatment for his loss at the French but he thought his winning record (66 straight?) plus not having lost for the past 6 years would count for something. So I do agree with you in that he expects to be absolutely destroyed in the media "over, finito, no longer number 1" and to a certain degree the reporters are doing exactly that (witness all the articles promoting Rafa to #1 ahead of the ranking system). But also to a certain extent the reaction is different than he perhaps anticipates, because the viewers REALLY loved the match. In a sense, he bore the brunt of viewers dissapointment in the lackluster (in a sense) French Open final, but this final being so spectacular didn't put as big a dent in his reputation as he's seeing it now.

That's my view on it, anyway.
I found nothing but despair in that interview, but I have hope that he will recover a good outlook in a few days. He certainly gave himself ample time to recover, and he will. This isn't the first time he's ever lost at Wimbledon after all.

Posted by 07/07/2008 at 03:46 PM

Please confirm the showing of the final-what channel and when. thanks.

Posted by Sher 07/07/2008 at 03:48 PM

that ramble was in reply to Tari's comment :)

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