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Spiraling Joys 01/18/2009 - 9:00 AM

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By Pete Bodo

Well, the bit is in, it's time to cinch the girth and get ready to ride; it's likely that by the next time I post, the optic-yellow pills will be flying and somebody will be pumping a fist and screaming, "Come on!"  I have two bits of housekeeping to take care of first off:

1 - Tennis.com's exclusive, live coverage of the Australian Open will be provided primarily by two staffers on the ground in Melbourne as I write this: Abby Lorge, our web mistress, and Tom Perrotta. Many of you remember Tomahawk's long-dormant String Theory blog from Grand Slams past. Well, it's up and running again, and it will be a good place to go for original, exclusive material from the tournament.

2 - Tennis.com will be providing an automatic daily newsletter from the AO. It's free, and you can sign up for daily delivery here.

This year, I'm going to try to catch more of the action on TV, which is an oft-broken promise I make myself because, well, I guess at heart I'm not a TV guy. I get edgy and restless when I'm just watching television; I start gnawing my fingernails (an unfortunate lifelong habit), then I jump up and suddenly, 10 minutes later, I've got my head buried in the walk-in closet and I've got the vacuum cleaner taken apart because the belt that drives the power roller snapped (something like 19 months ago) and must be replaced.

How I can spend so much time sitting around writing without experiencing similar urges or fears that I'm going to explode if I don't do something is a mystery to me. But one thing is for sure; I've been spoiled by purty near a lifetime spent watching more live tennis than is anybody's right to hope to see. But in all truth, any sports on television is something I rarely "watch." It's more like something I experience as background music, or some other ambient condition.

But this year I'm going to be more patient, attentive, and amenable to getting sucked into the electro-transmission of light waves flowing and melding in the black box to form the image of Roger Federer, or Jelena Jankovic.  BTW, did you see that item in the news the other day, about how we're getting closer to the day when concrete objects (including human beings, I presume) can be rendered invisible by bending light rays? Maybe I should paying more attention to all this Star Wars crap that has cowboy Luke so mesmerized. This breakthrough will take pay-for-view to a whole new level, I predict.

Sitting here at the farm, with a green piece of ash hissing as the wood stove boils out the moisture inside the log, I'm thinking about fans (as many of you know, I loathe what is commonly known as "bracketology") and the exquisite torture they'll be putting themselves through over these next two weeks.Two-hundred and fifty-six players will sally forth in quest of the men's and womens' singles titles, and only one man and one woman's mission will be a complete success. That gives you a rough idea of how perilous it is to be a fan.

I've often written that, to my mind, there are two kinds of fans out there: general tennis fans, for whom the game overshadows the transient individuals who play it (even though those fans have their heroes and villains), and those who sometimes seem more enamored of specific individuals than of the game in general.

I suppose that's true in all sports, but in tennis the pool of fans who attach their devotion to a single player (or players) is much greater - this is why you still find the occasional outlier who bangs his fist on the virtual table in a place like this and says something like: tennis ain't been the same since the days of McEnroe and Connors! He has a point, of course, but it's the self-evident one: nothing is ever the same as it was 10, 20 or 100 years ago. That's what happens when your interest is rooted in individuals, not the enterprise itself.

Team sports are in many ways much easier on the fan. Every day, I see guys wearing nylon New York Giants red, white and blue windbreakers, or OSHA-certified hard hats modeled on the Giants' helmet, complete with the logo. These guys are willing to sit in Giants' stadium in freezing rain in December, so you know they're committed. Yet very few of them are first and foremost Eli Manning fans - what they are is Giants fans, and if Manning happens to wreck their dreams, they're more than happy to throw him under the bus. Oh, they like some players more than others, but their allegiance is to the institution (the Giants), not to one or another of the people who, at any given time,  happen to play on the team. This is a liberating and generous mandate for the fan, because it allows him to be a fan as well as a critic. Nobody questions the Giant blue blood of a fan who boos a missed tackle by Antonio Pierce. How often does your typical Novak Djokovic fan boo when Nole blows a passing shot?

But tennis isn't a team sport (even Davis Cup in certain ways fails the smell test). Only those who are fans of the game in general are given latitude for dissent when it comes to the players, but they also are denied the heart-wrenching agony and the spiraling, concentrated joy experienced by fans of specific players. In some ways, those who resist - or keep in perspective - the siren song of personality issuing from each player are realists; those who do not, the diehard fans and KADs, are romantics.

I've often wondered, why would someone live and die by how Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal did on a given day? What's in it for them? Why make that investment?

Fans Not to get too heavy about it - okay, I'll get all heavy about it - I think having a specific, overwhelming favorite, while a narrow and in many ways unforgiving undertaking, gives the fan a way to express and perhaps experience unconditional love. And that's something most of us have spent at least portions of lives hunting. The born-again Christian will understand what I mean; the secular parent will also know -all he has to do is think about how he feels about his kid. We feel good about ourselves when we love unconditionally; we also long to be loved unconditionally, at least partly because it allows us to, well, get away with stuff. But by entering into this kind of relationship with a hero, we stake a partial claim to his or her conquests. When Ana Ivanovic wins, I win too, because I love Ana and this win is my reward for it - unconditionality be damned.

At some level, it's risky to transfer powerful emotions and loyalties to someone you don't know, or know only in his or her limited context as a tennis pro (that is, at some level, a machine. Because anyone who does anything "professionally" is just that, and the lengths to which players go - think Venus or Serena Williams - to try to demonstrate that they aren't "just" tennis players shows it.) How do you know that Janko Tipsarevic really is a "good" person -  because he has a Dostoyevsky quote tattooed on his arm?  Hey, maybe at heart he's more like Raskolnikov, an axe murderer!

We'll never really know how justified our love is, but isn't that moot, when the love we're trying to give is unconditional?  Besides, expending unconditional love on a tennis player is only risky in theory - unlike, say, expending unconditional love on a girlfriend, or spouse. It isn't like any of you guys are going to have to run out for milk because Jelena forgot to pick it up on the way home. The problem with being a uber-fan is that there's only one way to express that unconditional love (or to even show if it really exists, which really means that you have the capacity for giving it), and that's by loyalty.The fan who doesn't understand or accept that is on his or her way to becoming a stalker. And while loyalty to an institution, like a team, leaves you free to criticize anyone who appears to be an impediment to the success of that organism, you can't really do that with an individual. You're in for a penny, you're in for a dollar. Every tennis player out there is an institution unto himself, and his wins and losses are an open and shut case in which the glory or blame is undistributed.

The down-side of unconditional love is also the true test of the effort:  It's easy to give when you get something in return, but what do you do when you get nothing in return? That almost never happens in tennis, where everyone lives to fight another day, and those upon whom we're most likely to shower our unconditional love tend to be the ones who pay us back in spades. There's a reason the world is crawling with Federer and Nadal fans, while a Vince Spadea or Igor Andreev manages only a bemused "well done!"  now and then. We are, after all, human, and our urge to express and/or experience unconditional love is neatly offset by a considerably more rational desire to see a return on our investment. This explains the gallows humor and wry resignation exhibited by so many fans of Marat Safin. Being his fan is like giving money to that irascible but adorable con man, cousin Charley. It's just the toll you pay for being in his good graces.

Well, I won't go on. I want to finish the book I'm reading (A Terrible Glory, James Donovan's scrupulously researched retelling of the Battle of the Little Big Horn) before the tournament begins. In many ways, the early days of a major event are like one of these epic military battles - there's a lot of smoke and noise, the sheer chaos makes it hard to draw conclusions about anything, and even the most momentous surprise is likely to be long-forgotten by the the beginning of next week.

Feel free to treat this as a pre-Crisis Center post, and talk about whatever moves you on the even of  2009's first major. See y'all a little later.


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Posted by harini 01/18/2009 at 09:09 AM

first, and great post Pete!

i think after i fell of the Hewitt superfan bandwagon, i've just sort of spread my affection for several players without focusing continually on one player. it's not the healthiest though because i tend to have breakdowns on five players rather than one if they all lose.

still, it's part of the fun. and this AO is going to be crazy!

Posted by Maha (May Slam no. 14 come within a fortnight!) 01/18/2009 at 09:23 AM

"I've often wondered, why would someone live and die by how Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal did on a given day? What's in it for them? Why make that investment?"

OMG that is SOOO true... I have no reason for my obsessive, unconditional love for Roger... it's just there!!!!! And it can be HELL sometimes. But what the hey! I'm always for him!
GOOOD LUCK ROGER!!! May slam no 14 come within a fortnight!

Posted by mina 01/18/2009 at 09:25 AM

AO in less than half a day!!! YAY!

Posted by tina 01/18/2009 at 09:36 AM

Well, the fact that Janko Tipsarevic took the time to talk to me about politics on a freezing night in Indian Wells - after he lost a match - and was worried about me being cold, generally points to him being a "good person", as far as I'm concerned. Granted, he was unknown back then. But still, because he was unknown, I hadn't approached that meeting as a fan, either. He won me over on a personal level. And indeed, if it hadn't been my curiosity about him as a player, I might never have found TW.

Posted by Master Ace 01/18/2009 at 09:45 AM

If you want to participate in TAT(Talk About Tennis) suicide pool, links are provided below. Also, when putting in your picks, please put "TW" below your pick and your TW name if different from the one used at TAT.

Link to ATP suicide pool on TAT

http://tinyurl.com/7q523t

Link to WTA suicide pool on TAT

http://tinyurl.com/7scbjr

If you win on Day 1, there will be a separate thread for ATP and WTA for day 2.

Once you make your pick on TAT, please browse around. I like the suicide pool loser lounge.

Posted by Pica_pica (Supporter of the BIG 3) 01/18/2009 at 09:46 AM

Pete I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuv this article!

I have only been a tennis fan for around 6 months and I feel myself maturing from one who roots for the hottest players and despise the not-in-form ones, to a fan who love and support my players unconditionally. You make me realize that I'm actually learning and experiencing love while investing so much time being addicted to tennis XD !!

Posted by mina 01/18/2009 at 09:46 AM

MAHA!!! that post was Fedadoration that can only be from you!LOL

why the unconditional love for someone like Fed or Rafa? i guess its cos they're THERE to be obsessed about by the hordes who seek a figure to look up to, aspire to be (in a manner of speaking) and derive inspiration from, because in tennis,just as in any other organized sport, it is a representation of life it self, people want a hero to lead the way to greatness... for it is, in a way, through this very intense investment in a complete stranger, people's way of staking claim in even just a bit of greatness.
-----------------------------------
Where the hail did that come from?

*looks around*

who used my computer???LOL

Posted by Master Ace 01/18/2009 at 09:47 AM

Australian Open Day 1 Order of Play:

http://tinyurl.com/6jems

ATP - Bottom half led by Federer
WTA - Top half led by Jankovic

Omess,
Thanks for the information on the last thread on why the ATP top half is playing tomorrow. Had a feeling it had to involve Jo-Wilfried's back.

Posted by Joe 01/18/2009 at 09:48 AM

I can't wait, gooooooo Rafaaaaaaa!!!!!!!! You are the best!!!!!!

Posted by 01/18/2009 at 09:57 AM

Was the post closed - or am I closed out now?

Posted by katada 01/18/2009 at 10:00 AM

Good morning all:

Master Ace, I will like to play TAT, but I don't know how to do it. Can you help me in this matter please. Do I have to pick more than one player in my picks etc on both WTA and ATP?

Or for that matter any one were that have play it maybe can help me.

Regards every one.

Posted by Jlee 01/18/2009 at 10:09 AM

Wow, extremely interesting post. It's always fascinated me how people get so firmly behind a certain team in sports - what reason do they have to be a fan of something that is so constantly changing in faces and personalities? Now as a college student in Boston, I am seeing the full range of emotions for every Patriots, Celtics and of course, Red Sox fan. To some extent it makes more sense to me, but I believe in the end that I prefer individual sports because I love getting behind an individual based on their personality, back-story, and plain old guts on the court. It's absolutely exhilarating to experience such "unconditional love" for someone and literally live and die with them. When I see my Eagles team I find myself rooting for individuals in the same way - McNabb, Westbrook...they mean more to me than the team as a whole. And I hate when I finally learn all the individuals and their accomplishments, and they immediately switch teams and I'm expected to break my bond with them...

Anyway - GO EAGLES!!! (and Roger Federer :D)

Posted by harini 01/18/2009 at 10:18 AM

Oh man...i'm not interested in any of the starting matches. i'll comfort myself with the fact that it is tennis.

i might just stay up all night...no work tomorrow. let's see how long i last.

thanks for putting those links up, MA!

Posted by Christopher 01/18/2009 at 10:23 AM

Interesting post. Oddly, I had a conversation on this very topic a couple of days ago but only explored it to about 1/10 the depth you did here, Pete.

I've always been an individual sport guy and never understood attachment to teams whose members change completely. Even when I watch team sports, I'm usually interested in seeing outstanding individual players, even on bad teams (e.g. Barry Sanders). I love watching Federer more than watching tennis in general, but I also love tennis as a life-time fan who will follow it very closely no matter who is playing. Heck, I'll happily watch a recreational match between two players who are at the same level or better than I am.

Posted by maedal (Vamos Rafa and the Armada!) 01/18/2009 at 10:25 AM

katada, I just entered the suicide pool for the first time. the rules seem to be: for each day, after the OOP is published, you choose one player to win. you can only choose that player as a winner once (so, for example, don't pick federer on the first day). you can opt to do only ATP or WTA or both. For Twibers, it's good to put TW next to your name on the first day; afterwards, you don't have to.

Posted by tina 01/18/2009 at 10:25 AM

There was no greater pay-off for an Ivanisevic KAD (not that I knew the term KAD when I first had my eye on him) than to follow him through all those years, including the one when he lost to someone ranked near 500 at Wimbledon, and yet keep the faith... all the way through to 2001.

So I'm all for, say, Marat Safin fans - because you never know. Keeping the faith isn't easy by a long stretch, but wouldn't a Safin slam title be another great Cinderella story?

I guess for me it's too easy to be a Federer or Nadal KAD - which only says how consistent and great they truly are. Personally, I guess I need a bit of Sturm und Drung. I was a Sheffield United supporter for years while they were nearing relegation to the Second Division - and now they're back in the Premiership. And supporting Hull FC hasn't been an easy road, either.

Posted by tina 01/18/2009 at 10:28 AM

sorry - I meant Sturm und Drang. I don't speak German, but I knew that didn't sound right.

Posted by sarah 01/18/2009 at 10:29 AM

rosangel
rosangel

this is a reply to your last post to me on the previous Your Call, which is now closed.

i think some posters who seem to be on this blog nearly 24/7 should not jump the gun and overreact when some people file a post that they have not closely read or understood (which is the case with one person who replied to me). 'we don't go around doing such and such on this blog' etc... well,well,dear,dear,me,i don't know what to say to that,

don't make assumptions that every reader has been around forever. i posted, I opined, I asked, I sought an answer. that was fair and civil. and you replied. thanks for doing so.

enjoy the tournament....

Posted by harini 01/18/2009 at 10:38 AM

"Keeping the faith isn't easy by a long stretch, but wouldn't a Safin slam title be another great Cinderella story?"

YES, tina! here's hoping for another Marat Slam win this year...RG or Wimbledon would be best :)

Posted by rose 01/18/2009 at 10:42 AM

the article is great!

cant wait cant wait how many more hours again???

Posted by tennisfan76 01/18/2009 at 10:42 AM

tina- as a long time Safin fan, I appreciate your support. Would love to see Marat end his career with at least one more slam. That may be an unrealistic hope, but what can I do? The crazy Russian pulls me back every time :) I like Rafa and Roger too, but don't have the same (unhealthy?) emotional investment in their matches. Though was irrationally pleased when Federer won the US Open last year. In answer to your question on the other thread, AM, Marat may be one of a kind. My ex,a confirmed Safin hater, would say that's just as well!

Posted by joe 01/18/2009 at 10:52 AM

Janko Tipsaravic is NOT a good person.. have you ever read one of his interviews?

Posted by Flyer 01/18/2009 at 10:58 AM

OK - back to the more important topic of the previous post: HAIR

Well - Roger will use less of those mysterious hair "products" this tourney - as he is sporting a spankin' new "do" - lost some of those famous curls.

His hair looks better than most of his opponents (as noted by many viewers & commentators) after a match 'cause he doesn't appear to sweat as much as the others do - so his "do" is nearly always the winner.

So just "DO IT" Roger!


And Sarah - "do" rejoin the forum when you can - questions and viewpoints are always of interest - for moi particularly when they provide insight and provoke considered thoughtful responses in lieu of the old but too true knee jerk reactions.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 10:59 AM

Hey everyone,

"In some ways, those who resist - or keep in perspective - the siren song of personality issuing from each player are realists; those who do not, the diehard fans and KADs, are romantics."

*loves*


Posted by katada 01/18/2009 at 11:07 AM

maedal, thankyou for your response I'll try it and if I have any question or trouble I will ask you. Hugs

Posted by highpockets 01/18/2009 at 11:07 AM

Hey Pete,

Rafa KAD here ... although I do appreciate other players and a great match, no matter who's playing. But, yes, I'm an admitted nutcase for the now sleeved Spaniard. However, I grieve the loss of those lovely sweaty bronzed upper arms.

To get y'all in the mood, here's my poem from last year's Aussie Open men's game:


AUSSIE SUMMER KNIGHTS

The sun was bright on the new courts of blue
In the land of koala and kangaroo.
The stands full of Aussies, Serbs and Greeks,
Singing in full voice for two thrilling weeks.

It started off slowly, then, BANG, came the thunder,
For something was stirring in Melbourne Down Under.
With the rain falling outside, their Slam came alive,
And the guys did much more than just merely survive.

The show court was rockin’ with spirited combat,
In the land of the platypus, dingo and wombat.
They played though the morning and time we forgot,
No writer could dream up a more stunning plot.

The brilliance of Roger, the gumption of Tipsy,
Then Lleyton and Marcos, who grinned like a gypsy.
The nerdy one, Janko, got respect from his peers,
Then Hewitt watched Baggy exit Laver in tears.

Week two down in Oz was a bit more subdued,
As Roger beat James and darkened his mood.
Then the seeds started falling like rain from the sky,
And I can’t count the times Enberg shouted “Oh, my!”

While most in the U.S. were bored with the drama
Of Clinton and Romney, McCain and Obama,
Nole beat a Spaniard and Fed beat a Czech,
And Lleyton left Melbourne with Mia and Bec.

Meanwhile, Rafa, of French Open lore,
Got a draw with no ranking above twenty-four.
His path to the semis was quite smooth and easy,
Then he met up with Tsonga, who rendered him queasy.

The Frenchman, more potent than strong Aussie beer,
Stepped into the court with no tension or fear.
With his gusto and charm, he swept us away
And in straight sets demolished the great King of Clay.

The next semifinal featured Roger and Djoker,
And we hoped for a match that would be quite a corker.
The cocky young Serb really showed us his stuff,
And proved he was more than impressions and fluff.

While his family of athletes watched Nole in awe,
Not a set did he drop through a very tough draw.
Rog gave his all, but Novak was splendid,
And Fed’s streak of finals in Slams was then ended.

The air was electric for the final on Laver.
Would these two boys astound us? Would their confidence waver?
Would the crowd favorite, Tsonga, really sting like a bee,
And dance ‘round the court like his hero, Ali?

Would Novak use drama and time-outs and bouncing
To distract his opponent, then give him a trouncing?
Would this match be the start of a shift at the top?
No more Fed or Nadal, but a fresh hungry crop?

At the start, both were nervous, but Tsonga had passion,
And captured the first set in spectacular fashion.
But Novak was driven and would not be denied,
And captured the second and third sets in stride.

The fourth set was close and we yearned for a fifth,
But the breaker was won by Djoker forthwith.
Now Oz has a new champ who is game and defiant,
And Tsonga, no worries, he’s already a giant.

What we learned here in Oz is you must hold your nerve,
And you won’t find success with a bad second serve.
And here’s what will take place in upcoming weeks,
As the journalists write about valleys and peaks:

They’ll put the Serb on a pedestal; they’ll worship Jo-Willy.
They’ll say what they say and they’ll make it sound frilly.
They’ll say Fed’s lost his magic; they’ll call Rafa a bum,
But what they've achieved just makes the mind numb.

So, here’s an idea … Rog beats Rafa in France,
Then in England, Nadal sticks in Roger a lance.
At the USO, Blake will remove Djoker’s starch,
And Pete will thump Fed at The Garden in March.

Looks like only my second prediction came true ... and just barely.

Posted by Madame 01/18/2009 at 11:08 AM

8 hours to go !!!!
And I'll be sleeping

Australian Open is hard on us Europeans ...

Please go play the Suicide Pool at TAT, it is so fun. And TAT is a great place. I've started a thread on the frenchies if you are interested.
http://www.talkabouttennis.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12876

I wish you all a Grand Australian Open

Allez Les Bleus !

Posted by highpockets 01/18/2009 at 11:08 AM

Hey Pete,

Rafa KAD here ... although I do appreciate other players and a great match, no matter who's playing. But, yes, I'm an admitted nutcase for the now sleeved Spaniard. However, I grieve the loss of those lovely sweaty bronzed upper arms.

To get y'all in the mood, here's my poem from last year's Aussie Open men's game:


AUSSIE SUMMER KNIGHTS

The sun was bright on the new courts of blue
In the land of koala and kangaroo.
The stands full of Aussies, Serbs and Greeks,
Singing in full voice for two thrilling weeks.

It started off slowly, then, BANG, came the thunder,
For something was stirring in Melbourne Down Under.
With the rain falling outside, their Slam came alive,
And the guys did much more than just merely survive.

The show court was rockin’ with spirited combat,
In the land of the platypus, dingo and wombat.
They played though the morning and time we forgot,
No writer could dream up a more stunning plot.

The brilliance of Roger, the gumption of Tipsy,
Then Lleyton and Marcos, who grinned like a gypsy.
The nerdy one, Janko, got respect from his peers,
Then Hewitt watched Baggy exit Laver in tears.

Week two down in Oz was a bit more subdued,
As Roger beat James and darkened his mood.
Then the seeds started falling like rain from the sky,
And I can’t count the times Enberg shouted “Oh, my!”

While most in the U.S. were bored with the drama
Of Clinton and Romney, McCain and Obama,
Nole beat a Spaniard and Fed beat a Czech,
And Lleyton left Melbourne with Mia and Bec.

Meanwhile, Rafa, of French Open lore,
Got a draw with no ranking above twenty-four.
His path to the semis was quite smooth and easy,
Then he met up with Tsonga, who rendered him queasy.

The Frenchman, more potent than strong Aussie beer,
Stepped into the court with no tension or fear.
With his gusto and charm, he swept us away
And in straight sets demolished the great King of Clay.

The next semifinal featured Roger and Djoker,
And we hoped for a match that would be quite a corker.
The cocky young Serb really showed us his stuff,
And proved he was more than impressions and fluff.

While his family of athletes watched Nole in awe,
Not a set did he drop through a very tough draw.
Rog gave his all, but Novak was splendid,
And Fed’s streak of finals in Slams was then ended.

The air was electric for the final on Laver.
Would these two boys astound us? Would their confidence waver?
Would the crowd favorite, Tsonga, really sting like a bee,
And dance ‘round the court like his hero, Ali?

Would Novak use drama and time-outs and bouncing
To distract his opponent, then give him a trouncing?
Would this match be the start of a shift at the top?
No more Fed or Nadal, but a fresh hungry crop?

At the start, both were nervous, but Tsonga had passion,
And captured the first set in spectacular fashion.
But Novak was driven and would not be denied,
And captured the second and third sets in stride.

The fourth set was close and we yearned for a fifth,
But the breaker was won by Djoker forthwith.
Now Oz has a new champ who is game and defiant,
And Tsonga, no worries, he’s already a giant.

What we learned here in Oz is you must hold your nerve,
And you won’t find success with a bad second serve.
And here’s what will take place in upcoming weeks,
As the journalists write about valleys and peaks:

They’ll put the Serb on a pedestal; they’ll worship Jo-Willy.
They’ll say what they say and they’ll make it sound frilly.
They’ll say Fed’s lost his magic; they’ll call Rafa a bum,
But what they've achieved just makes the mind numb.

So, here’s an idea … Rog beats Rafa in France,
Then in England, Nadal sticks in Roger a lance.
At the USO, Blake will remove Djoker’s starch,
And Pete will thump Fed at The Garden in March.

Looks like only my second prediction came true ... and just barely.

Posted by neil in toronto 01/18/2009 at 11:13 AM

Morning kids and Kads!! Running around doing my cleaning so i can plunk in front of the tv in 12 little hours to enjoy the start of the A.O.

Welcome to sarah, if you're still around, stick around, i've been posting around 6 months and most peeps are welcoming!!!

Jewell!!!!!!!!!! i'm totally panicking over my suicide pick.

Posted by rose 01/18/2009 at 11:15 AM

@ madame

i feel ur pain et c domage we have to wait that long en i love watching live matches i think i'll do some shut eye in two hrs to b close to fresh @ 1am

Posted by mina 01/18/2009 at 11:15 AM

uh, i think i messed up while registering over at TAT, username thingy... oh well, pardon the redundancy, first time SP'er here LOL

hi highpockets! i think this is the first time i've seen u here since i joined TW *relatively new*, nice to meet you and thanks for your poems!!!

Posted by Andrew 01/18/2009 at 11:16 AM

Fascinating set of questions, Pete.

I grew up in England cheering on a football (soccer) team, Liverpool: I've cheered on the England cricket, football and rugby teams in my time too, so I'm very familiar with the team identification thing.

Until the day I die, I'll remember walking home with my father crying openly and bitterly at the age of 11 after Liverpool lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the 1971 FA Cup final. We had gone down the street to watch at the house of a neighbor who had a color television. There were many wins, and losses, for me to deal with growing up, both as a player (football, rugby, cricket, squash, finally tennis) and a supporter.

Now, at 49, I'll be watching a furtive live stream at the office, muttering "c'mon, Fed" as Federer shanks a BH in a first round match against Michael Berrer, or some other worthy. In the general clutter of my desk there's a FederBear and a Federer calendar. There is a certain amount of that unconditional love thingie going on, and it's been the object of some reasonably good natured ribbing from sets of colleagues ("who was that streaker shouting "I love you, Roger!" we saw on TV?")

One question you didn't ask (but which will be familiar to others in the Tribe) is - how do the partners of us KADs feel? When the AO comes around, or Shanghai, how does Sylvia respond to my getting up at 1:30am, or 3:30am, to follow a live stream of the distant object of my affection? Pretty well, I think. Those Federer calendars are now traditional Christmas presents in the Burton households, and there's a certain element of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." When your wife volunteers to get up at 3:30am to sit on the sofa with you to watch a tennis match, she's telling you something about your relationship.

In the end, the other affection isn't really a relationship. Federer may have a relationship with his fans, en masse, and a few of them are sufficiently motivated to make multiple visits in person carrying the red envelope and the Shh...Quiet banner. But the affection transfer is primarily one way. Roger Federer, bless his heart, doesn't care about any of us as individuals, and nor should he. He has enough on his plate caring about Mirka Vavrinec, his parents, his friends and colleagues, like most sane humans.

So the "sports crush" described by a writer for Men's Vogue is what it is, transitory by the nature of the brevity of a player's career (I was pretty interested by Chris Evert in my teens, but there were, um, other factors at work there). Part of the pleasure of finding TW is to realize that you're not alone, that there are others like you who share this kind of feeling - and it doesn't matter if it's a feeling for Nadal, or Safin, or Serena Williams, or anyone else. You know who you are.

And in my own case, though I'm bitterly disappointed if Federer loses a major final (and my cats have to ask extra nicely for their salmon the next morning), I'll do what I've done since I was 11 - get over it, it was a good game, there'll be other times.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 11:17 AM

Neil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*clasps hands*

So am I, nobody seems to have picked the same as me (at least not last time I checked...) Never mind, we can frazzle together. :)


Highpockets - that was hilarious, I'm still giggling!

Posted by jbradhunter 01/18/2009 at 11:21 AM

tina- sounds like you had a very nice experience with Tipsy

I tend to get drawn in by individual personalities- Rafa, Janky, Venus, Maria, RAndy- but they're a varied bunch personality wise, mostly sharing the championship winning ability. I also love tennis players- Whether it be Federer or Murray or Neishikori or Dementieva
I crave great drama- the 2006 mens Italian Open final, 2008 men's Wimby final, 2007 Ladies' YEC final- the roller coaster matches really get me even though I pace and yell and feel sick- whatever it may be- it's all good

Posted by Christopher 01/18/2009 at 11:25 AM

Andrew-- The spouse question is an interesting one. My wife cares little for tennis, but very much wants Federer to win each and every match so that her husband doesn't get too mopey for a few hours (or a little longer, in the case of a certain grass court tournament final last year).

In spite of never watching tennis, she now knows quite a bit about it, thanks to a husband who, shall we say, can run on a bit.

Of course TW makes all this much better as we can run on a bit to people who are at least slightly more interested.

Posted by jbradhunter 01/18/2009 at 11:28 AM

Andrew. Wow.
I so appreciate your sensitivity and honesty. And Sylvia sounds like an amazing, loving spouse. You're a fortunate man :) from your description, you sound very aware of that. So sweet.

Posted by neil in toronto 01/18/2009 at 11:28 AM

jbrad: agreed and the offcourt stuff is becoming interesting too, with all the ladies being catty about who is number one and the men too, what with Murray almost being crowned the champ already. Its all very fascinating.

I mean chunks of threads have been devoted to arguing about clothing for gosh sakes LOL.

Posted by rudy3 (electricity is for wimps) 01/18/2009 at 11:42 AM

I think fellow KAD's will attest to this, but I don't enjoy my favorite player's matches, so much as I suffer through them...I ENJOY watching the tape later.
Its gotten nearly impossible to sit still and watch one of Rafa's matches. I was unreasonably nervous for Rafa's match against Tsonga in IW this past spring, the final at MC, the semi at Hamburg, and although I was strangely calm for the Wimby final, once Rafa dumped the 4th set, I couldn't watch anymore. I had the tv on mute, and a beach towel over the screen...I followed the 5th set by way of this good place, and the cheering thread at vb.com.
All I can say is its a good thing stalking a tennis player is prohibitive on a teacher's salary.

But...I do very much enjoy matches that I have no vested interest in. Like the Djoker v. Gulbis match in RO, or the Sharapova v Safina match, also in RO. TMF v. Andreev at USO, Roddick v. Fed in Miami, I really enjoy Venus' matches, specially at Wimby, and I have always liked Nalbandian, don't ask me why.

So really, my KADism sometimes prevents me from enjoying the sport. But I do love love the sport, specially the clay/grass season...its the time of year, the weather, the color, the natural aspects of it.

What I love about AO is the new, fresh season begins, its summer down there while its dreary here, its always surprising, and it runs here when I can watch...late at night or early in the morning.

Vamos Rafa!!!!! And to my fellow KAD's, we will survive the hideous Malibu Ken outfits, lack of match play, and all the Mooray hype.
Good luck and happy tennis to all the KAD's, and may your man or woman bring you joy.

Posted by Annie 01/18/2009 at 11:45 AM

Pete, good gracious man, where were you last night? we had a lively discussion here on this very topic of fandom. I have my favorites and have yet to figure out why i'm drawn to them. It certainly has something to do with their style of play, personality on (and off) the court, and some sort of "it" factor. and in the unfortunate event that the player i like the most (rafa) should lose, i then grieve and promptly switch my allegiance to my next favorite player and so on. If two players reach the final that i don't usually root for, then i just enjoy the quality of play.
and boy did i identify with your puttering around and getting pre-occupied while trying to watch a match. i do the same thing. hopefully with our nice flat screens and HD the viewing experience will be really nice this year.

and pete, are you in the SP? who'd ya pick?

Posted by Tamara 01/18/2009 at 11:45 AM

very good writen.I remember when i was young ,when my grandfather's team would lose my grandmother would tell him why you're so annoyed they aren't gone put food on your table or something like win or lose they not gona bring you sack of flour on your doorstep.

Posted by Pierre 01/18/2009 at 11:46 AM

Has anyone ever noticed that "Dokic" sounds like a kind of skin rash that longshoremen get?

Posted by Jimmy Mulligan 01/18/2009 at 11:46 AM

love as a form?
I'm going to have to come back and read this later after I watch the American Football AFC & NFC championships.

my first reaction is that fans are greedy in searching for some spiritual connection to a players success? That this giving of "unconditional love" is a method of the meek hoping to get a reward.
So you go to the bookie and bet your unconditional love on the positive action of your favorite sports player. The reward... sort of like patting yourself on the back?

This is one heavy holy mackeral!

I thaught unarmed truth and unconditional love were supposed to go together to create the brightests form of enlightenment...WOW yea Im going to hope for a big dose of Ray Lewis crackin heads today will cure this wishy washy lovey love.
because if you watch a person like that play the game of football with unconditional love of the game . You would swear you could understand unconditional love of a game...?

I dont know . but good luck . lol.

Posted by 01/18/2009 at 11:47 AM

pleasant read

Posted by neil in toronto 01/18/2009 at 11:48 AM

LOL rudy3, i sometimes share that same suffering, tho i did manage to watch the 5th set, screaming and cursing at the t.v. like a madman.

The feeling when Rafa finally won was elation mixed with sheer exhaustion, with many apologies to my dog :)

Posted by sarah 01/18/2009 at 11:48 AM

"And Sarah - "do" rejoin the forum when you can - questions and viewpoints are always of interest - for moi particularly when they provide insight and provoke considered thoughtful responses in lieu of the old but too true knee jerk reactions."

thanks very much for this... really appreciate the sentiment.

(i'll,avoid,certain,people,from,now,on,)

going to bed (i live in asia)...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 11:56 AM

Mm, I empathise with the 'not so much enjoying the matches as suffering through them.'

My shoulders ached for a whole week after Wimbledon - *pauses to kiss DVD* - due to the accumulated tension of the two weeks.

Posted by rudy3 (electricity is for wimps) 01/18/2009 at 11:59 AM

Several have mentioned their pets. probably the only being in your abode who will give you their unconditional love, while the player whom you have lavished your unconditional love, is dumping serve in the 5th set, or blowing match points with a DF.

During the Rome 06 final, I started brushing my cat...by the 5th set he had 2 bald spots on his back...I promised I would never do that to him again.

Posted by maedal (Vamos Rafa and the Armada!) 01/18/2009 at 11:59 AM

rudy3, i agree with you completely about the tension of watching rafa's matches. it's much more relaxing to watch matches he's not playing! strangely enough, though, for wimby 08 i had complete and total confidence that he would win, and i just sat there and watched--like a normal person!

i hope you're right about our surviving the wardrobe selection this year...

vamos!

Posted by Flyer 01/18/2009 at 12:00 PM

Nail on head - tennis is an individual sport - thus the emotional fling of faith into the abyss is far more concentrated than when spread over a team of players.

To be so sublimely tortured is a lovely way for any self respecting masochist to spend their time ..... and blood!

And - is such a fun way for the sadist to sympathetically support their player's opposing fans when their guy has just won - so sweetly patting their "friends" back while sliding knife in....

Posted by May 01/18/2009 at 12:02 PM

Wow, wonderful analysis. I spent long years trying to come to terms with my deap, often-torturing love for people I will never know. They were always athlets,but not neccessarily hugely successful - so the reward wasn't always there. At any rate, I did find out that this kind of disinterseted love gives you many things: personally, I know it made me more fogiving and accepting of people in my life. You can't be terribly invested in a person who must have faults without learning that love and tolerance of people you know in your own life are also possible. Or at least so it was for me.

But I never yet thought to define it in terms of 'unconditional love'...and yet, that probably explains why, before matches that makes me terribly anxious for TMF, I cling to people on whose uncondional love I depend, and why I find reciving expressions of such love from others, the only source of relief for pain caused by matches such as the heartbreaking 2008 Wimbledon final.

Posted by harini 01/18/2009 at 12:11 PM

i'm loving the KAD stories here :)

the years of my Hewitt fandom, my entire mood depended on his wins/losses. if he lost, i would be so sore and angry and if he won, i would be on cloud nine. no other player has made me feel like that in recent years--mainly because i haven't found a player that i care about as much as i did lleyton. i guess Marat and Gasquet are the closest.

i've always liked a multitude of players so i would have someone to 'fall back' on when my favourite lost. i've just gotten to a point where i don't have a decided top favourite and just have multitudes of players to root for...and sometimes i just get too invested in all of them, which is never a good sign.

Posted by Annie 01/18/2009 at 12:11 PM

it's wonderful how AM goes to the sydney medibank and actually talks to the players and coaches. She's a player and a knowledgable fan. I think the players and coaches enjoy interacting with fans that know their stuff.

Andrew, thanks for your post and please tell your wife she's a peach.

Posted by Annie 01/18/2009 at 12:12 PM

having said all that i really hope rafa crushes murray.

Posted by Jimmy Mulligan 01/18/2009 at 12:20 PM

Flyer that's a nice spin on it. Emotional fling of faith into an abyss. sorry "the" abyss.
Im sure that must be painful...and take that how you would like, it's a free world wide web.lol.

A true friend is honest and with out a doubt unmerciful. You should choose the one's that do not carry weapons if that sort of thing worries you.

Posted by Andrew 01/18/2009 at 12:22 PM

Annie: Sylvia has just made crepes for the family (plus Cathleen's sleepover guest Ashley). She was the beneficiary of morning coffee in bed on a tray with biscotti, so things do flow both ways. She was delighted to learn that she's a peach, and wishes me well as I head off for doubles at 12:30ET (10:30am here in Calgary).

Best to all and their spouses, partners and families.

Posted by crazyone 01/18/2009 at 12:22 PM

Is Wilander angling to be Fed's coach again?
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/60590b2c-e40a-11dd-8274-0000779fd2ac.html

I'm so desperate for Fed to have a coach that I'm actually leaning towards it now...sad. ;)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 12:23 PM

One thing I *don't* like in myself about loving Rafa so stupidly much is that any perceived criticism of him can provoke an extreme reaction in me, and then I post something defensive and without thinking, and the results are not pretty. I hate it when I do that. *sighs deeply*

Posted by Master Ace 01/18/2009 at 12:25 PM

Katada,
Sorry that I was not around earlier as I had to run a few errands. Were you able to succeed in registering for TAT and putting in your pick for the suicide pool?

*****************************************************************
Do not forget to put in your suicide pick for the ATP and WTA if you want to participate in TAT's 5th annual AO pool. Links are provided at 9:45 AM TW

**go to run another errand but shall return in about an hour**

Posted by neil in toronto 01/18/2009 at 12:26 PM

Jewell, its not your fault, we all rush to protect him ( well his fans), because i think we like to feel that he needs protection no?

Posted by maedal (Vamos Rafa and the Armada!) 01/18/2009 at 12:27 PM

annie @ 12:12 -- too funny! and i agree completely!!

Posted by mina 01/18/2009 at 12:27 PM

"in the unfortunate event that the player i like the most (rafa) should lose, i then grieve and promptly switch my allegiance to my next favorite player and so on"

Annie, read my mind!!! i hope you didn't see the ones involving my fangirl moments! LOL

and word on your post re Rafa and MAndy...LOL

Posted by Flyer 01/18/2009 at 12:31 PM

Jimmy Mulligan - have no idea what your point was - and am a happier person for it!

Posted by mina 01/18/2009 at 12:32 PM

bye for now, see you all tomorrow, too bad i'll miss RAndy's match...

Posted by Flyer 01/18/2009 at 12:33 PM

Ah O!

Power just went out - not a good thing when the temp is 18 degrees. Must go look for flaslights and blankies.

Till later - err - very early this am when the matches start.

Will try and pry the eyes open for a quick view before work.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 12:36 PM

Neil, :-) - it's not my fault really that I want to protect Rafa, maybe, but it *is* my fault when I post something bitter and sarcastic and dismissive of another person's opinion of him.

*goes off to beat self up a bit more*

Snap out of it, Jewell!

I can't wait till tomorrow! - only 15 hours to go until there's tennis on TV!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 12:37 PM

Bye Mina and Flyer. :)

Flyer, hope you get power back on, and stay warm!

Posted by malimeda 01/18/2009 at 12:42 PM

I mean, how can you NOT be a fan when he comes up with something like this:

"Q: Hi Rafa. On Tuesday (13th) we saw you come down to the lobby at Crown and you looked lost. Were you lost? Do you get annoyed by fans coming up to you like that? And do you mind when fans try to talk to you? Best of luck. Su-May

A: I sometimes look lost, like last year against Tsonga here ... I was probably looking for someone. I don't mind fans talking to me, why should I?
I have to be very thankful to them and that's what I always try to do. But you also know that sometimes it is impossible with everyone."

(Rafa's Q & A session in today's Herald Sun)

Posted by Jenn 01/18/2009 at 12:45 PM

This is great food for thought as we kick off the first slam of the year in 6 or 7 hours (can't wait!). On California time, I find the AO one of the easiest slams to be able to watch and still appear at work, although the middle-of-the-night matches take their toll by week #2. Still better for Pacific Time Zone dwellers than having matches start at 8:00 a.m. our time and finish around 5:00 p.m. (US Open). A little tough to catch those without calling in sick or sneaking out to a bar midday.

I would follow and love tennis no matter what, but for me, the "unconditional love" of a player (never thought of it quite that way before, but I think it applies) is what gets me to the next level of excitement about a tournament and the tour rankings, etc. There are plenty of players I root for, but its fun to have the one or two players who can just do no wrong in my eyes. I love the child/parent analogy: if you adore a player like that, then you are just so genuinely happy when they triumph, just like seeing your child accomplish something. Without guys like Agassi and Nadal, I would still be interested in tennis, but much more apathetic about the results. I think if you can find a player that you like that much and who truly brings you joy to follow, its a gift.

Madame Pockets - great start to the year!

Posted by Christopher 01/18/2009 at 12:47 PM

One odd comment in that FT article: "Will Federer, 27, now start fading into the gossip magazines like other ousted number ones before him?"

I suppose this comment could somewhat apply to Borg, eventually, or perhaps Becker. But is there anyone else? Not McEnroe (though he has made appearances there), Connors, Lendl, Edberg, Sampras, Agassi, Courier, etc. Safin and Hewitt in some ways, but they were hardly long-term number ones and they're still very active players. It's just strange to see the characterizations about top tennis players.

Posted by rose 01/18/2009 at 12:49 PM

thats a gud one malimeda!!!

Posted by katada 01/18/2009 at 12:53 PM

Master Ace, Thankyou, I did post my picks, hope I did it right, I did post ATP and WTa in the same post but then I when abck and post then again on each TAT. I hope I did it correct this time.

jewell, saludos!!!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 12:53 PM

"I sometimes look lost, like last year against Tsonga here ..."

*adores*

thanks Malimeda! :)

I can't help but think that gossip mags would have a thin time of it with Roger. He doesn't exactly have Becker's dramatic personal life, does he? Which is kind of a good thing, for me at least. ;)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 12:54 PM

*waves to Katada*

How are you doing? Looking forward to tomorrow? ;)

Posted by Ndesque 01/18/2009 at 12:55 PM

tina - It was nice to read of your experience with Janko up thread. Thanks for sharing that one.

"When Ana Ivanovic wins, I win too, because I love Ana and this win is my reward for it..."

"...desire to see a return on our investment."

Absolutely loved this write-up. True on a ton of points.

JJ at the AO Player's Party:

http://i40.tinypic.com/2vcuq1g.jpg

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 12:59 PM

Rafa's first blog for the Times from AO is up, too.

"And the real competition starts here. I have to say that I am excited about it. The end of my best year ever was kind of not the way I expected it to be."

oh...*sad moment*

Posted by katada 01/18/2009 at 01:01 PM

Hey jewll, Doing today better than yesterday, yesterday I had that terrible headache again. Not good he. Visiting the doctor on Thursday.

For me the AO start today 8 PM on ESPN 2. Australia is 15 hours ahead of me. But yes tomorrow is when Rafa plays. have great hopes for him this year there. The first round will tell us how is he in form or not. is going to be a every heard road to the final, but less see, I'm always positive. He is such a great champion, I will never bet against him ever.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 01:02 PM

And so is the Times Net Post:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article5539932.ece

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 01:19 PM

aargh, stupid timezones.

Glad you're better today, Katada - headaches of that kind are awful. *sympathises*

Posted by roadrunnerz 01/18/2009 at 01:22 PM

I think one's love for a team or an athlete is as difficult to explain as one's love for another person.

I love Fed for the way he makes tennis seem effortless, beautiful and elegant. I also love that the way he broods on court and makes it clear that winning means the world to him, and that his off-court life seems scandal free. Very appealing things to me, but maybe not to someone else.

Another big reason I love him is that he's Swiss, like me. It's the reason we support our local teams and become fans of them. They're one of us. It's why I also root for Stan at every tournament.

I mean, here's a guy who speaks the same dialect as me, and is on track to become one of the greatest sportsmen on the planet. It's why it means the world to me that he breaks Sampras' record, because Switzerland might not have another chance to have an athlete being called "the best ever" in his or her respective sport. It also means that watching Fed at slams isn't much fun these days, 'cause I want him to win too badly. I think I'd be a Fed fan regardless of his nationality, but I wouldn't quite have the same emotional investement I do now, if he were, say, American. Or Mongolian.

Don't think I'm a KAD though 'cause I don't defend my man at every turn and can see his faults. Sometimes he'll say things that make me want to yell, "Dude, not cool!" Then again maybe that's what unconditional love is, seeing the faults and remaining a fan anyway.

All that said, I'm also a big Rafa fan (I shallowly confess, more for his beautiful personality and overall hotness than his game) and actually enjoy watching his matches more than Fed's these days...'cause they're not as stressfull! In that sense, I'm kinda glad he's Spanish... ;)

Hoping for a Fedal final at AO!!

Posted by 01/18/2009 at 01:27 PM

Hell all! Nail-biting time again... KAD stuff, some of it, I dare say, has to do with the human need for hero worship..., no? And it's always so fun (or pain) to, umm, hitch yourself onto a vicarious ride... through the peaks of joy and the valleys of utter despair.... why, oh, why do we invest our hearts into certain players the way we do, it's utterly irrational, and yet... I wonder what evolutionary biologists might say in response to Pete's post?

Sarah, I scanned through yesterday's posts to see what the storm in the teacup was about.... Welcome!

Roseangel, I thought it was hilarious that you find some of Rog's comments not-so-fabulous, whenever I come upon his seemingly outrageously narcissistic comments, his adorable-ness quotient leaps up even higher in my little universe, whatever Rog is, a PC robot he is not! (I get tickled pink at his adroitness!) How he manages to exude both humility and arrogance so simultaneously boggles the mind, and I hope he never changes his spots! GO ROGER!!

Posted by siggy 01/18/2009 at 01:31 PM

Gah, that was "hello all," not "hell all"! And robespierred by typepad again, oopsie....

Sam, if you are here, congratulations and good luck! I hope both of us are happy 2 weeks henceforth! ;)

Posted by Sher 01/18/2009 at 01:31 PM

Love this post, Pete!

Sometimes I feel that my "like" of Rafa and Andy Murray is a way to "diversify my investment" in Federer :)

Posted by Annie 01/18/2009 at 01:35 PM

Just finished reading the exchange from yesterday's post with various twibers and sarah. sorry she had such a negative response to posting here. Boy, that was not my experience at all and i brought up a couple of controversial subjects the first time i posted here. since i've been here i've witnessed numerous people posting for the first time and in each instance, twibers are welcoming and answer all questions quickly and graciously. there's no club mentality here at all. since the same people post with regularity it becomes a neighborhood of friends with many differing opinions as well as many similar opinions.
I think if you post for the first time with some preconceived perception of what we're like then you will probably be looking for a certain type of reception.
And it would help if people didn't make ignorant statements about journalists not being able to express opinions about players. that's patently false to start with. with the exception of a straight news story where journalists are supposed to remain impartial, it is perfectly okay for an opinion writer to write his/or her "opinions."

here endeth annie's lecture for the day.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 01:38 PM

Hey Siggy and Sher. :)

*off to cook supper/watch Ronnie O'Sullivan, etc.*

See you all in the morning I expect, when there will be tennis! Well, morning for me. ;)

And, good luck to all the players.

*dances jig of excitement*

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Rafa for AO 2009!!! 01/18/2009 at 01:39 PM

*waves to Annie first, then disappears*

Posted by siggy 01/18/2009 at 01:41 PM

Jenn and Roadrunnerz (nice to "meet" you, by the way), I don't think being a KAD necessarily blinds one to her favorite player's warts! I cringe at some of Rogi-isms like anybody else, it's just that I choose to interpret them in a favorale light because I adore him so, ya know? And contextulizing always helps! ;)

Posted by Rachael 01/18/2009 at 01:42 PM

nice post.

got me all fuzzy and sentimental regarding my own little lord and saviour.

basically I think I never have and never will feel the same amount of investment in another player because this one (Roddick) was my first.
the first player who I paid complete attention to, who made me see the sport as something more than two guys hitting balls at each other.

it sounds twee, but I don't think I could adequately list why it was Roddick I chose. hell, do we ever really choose these things? I wasn't really aware how much money I'd spend, how much time I'd sacrifice, how many tears I'd shed, all because I'd been seduced into forming this attachment.
I doubt that would have changed anything anyway.

I guess I'm grateful for Andy, more than anything. maybe if not him it would have been another player a year or two later. but it was Rod who well and truly converted me from a casual observer into a mad ol' tennis fan, and I can't be sure that I would've found a passion such as this without him.


jesus, roll on midnight so I can see this cat.

Posted by Annie 01/18/2009 at 01:49 PM

can't wait! rocket roddick and nole both on the first night!

Posted by Rachael 01/18/2009 at 01:54 PM

I know, the anticipation is killing me.
I'd love to sit through the whole OOP, especially on the first day of a slam, but I have to go to bed right after Rod because of an early morning appointment.
SO disappointing.

I know I'll be tempted to stay up just to scoreboard Bolelli anyway.
and to keep a beady eye on my SP pick Phau.

Posted by Arun 01/18/2009 at 01:55 PM

(from the prev thread)

Lira Vega: Thnx for that "Federer running scared of Murray.." article.. And, welcome back!

Posted by Monica 01/18/2009 at 02:01 PM

Hi Everyone! Here's to a great 2009 AO and especially for my favorite, Fed. Would also like to see Roddick do well here. Not sure if it's just me or not but he does seem to be doing better, seems to calming down and taking his time a little bit out there and not as hyper as he always appeared to be, to me anyway. I too would like to see Marat do well, and of course, Gilles - he just really comes across as enjoying himself out there. I feel so excited and so nervous at the same time. I really wish some of my friends would get interested in Tennis so they'd understand my craziness or sillyness (as they call it) with Tennis. I was thinking of possibly joining the Suicide Pool but finally decided against it right now - I think it would just add to my nervousness. If anyone can answer this, I'd appreciate it - Do they only have the Suicide Pool for the AO or is it for other tournaments as well? If so, maybe I'll get over my nerves and join for the FO. Thanks for your help.

Posted by alljaa 01/18/2009 at 02:05 PM

So I have been told that you are not anybody in tennis unless you come here to hang out - interesting piece, Pete - I wrote something similiar to it and posted it - and pretty much got blasted for daring to suggest that fan adoration is a form of denial - that putting out that much emotion for a person you do not know is a way of avoiding investing that emotion in real people - it was called Bleacher Blues...and my best friend hated it! Still a valid point and something to consider in loving tennis and tennis professionals!

Anyway - great to be here - have been here before periodically. Love the article!

Posted by siggy 01/18/2009 at 02:06 PM

Hello Monica, a fella rogi fan! I am no expert myself but I do believe there's a suicide pool for every slam. Jump in, go for it if you dare!

Posted by Syd 01/18/2009 at 02:11 PM

Federer dyes his hair? And eats small children in the dead of night too, I suppose.

It's a bit silly to say so, as no one can possibly know, other than Federer's hairdresser, and she's not telling.

Posted by crazyone 01/18/2009 at 02:11 PM

Posting this again for Fed fans (and other interested folks):

Christopher Clarey, Philippe Bouin of L'Equipe, Tom Tebbutt of the Globe and Mail, Juan Jose Mateo of El Pais, Jon Wertheim of SI, and Linda Pierce of The Age discuss the Fed:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/13/sports/clareyopenone.php

The men's game in general: http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/15/sports/clareyopentwo-408847.php

the women's game in general: http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/16/sports/16forum-clarey.php

part 4: http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/16/sports/16forum-clarey.php

Posted by Sherlock 01/18/2009 at 02:16 PM

Crazyone, I missed your late post last night, but thanks for the roundtable link. In case anyone missed, here it is.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/13/sports/clareyopenone.php

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/15/sports/clareyopentwo-408847.php

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/16/sports/16forum-clarey.php

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/18/sports/clareyopenfour18-410399.php

It's a 4 part series. The first is about Roger, the second the rest of the men, the third the WTA side of things, and the fourth talks about the game in general. Good stuff. I especially liked this sequence:

CLAREY: I think she has the more complete tennis in her but lacks the lucidity and confidence to execute it. The biggest disappointment to me, other than Sharapova's injury, is Svetlana Kuznetsova.

WERTHEIM: Right on. All the athleticism in the world and no self confidence whatsoever. She is the embodiment of how mental a sport this is.

TEBBUTT: Kuznetsova messed up more draws last year - so many were out of balance with her on that side

MATEO: Svetlana is a great mover, has a complete game, but lacks concentration in the important moments. She is messy when the time comes to decide to take or not to take risks.

CLAREY: Do we think her moving back to Moscow full time -- whatever that means? -- will help Kuznetsova?

BOUIN: To what? To party better or to play better?

TEBBUTT: Saw her practicing last week with Olga Morozova as coach - not sure any one can help that head.

MATEO: Sveta will miss Emilio Sanchez's help as a coach. That's a downer. He revealed himself as a master tactician in the Davis Cup.

CLAREY: What of the Portuguese 15-year-old -- Michelle Larcher De Brito? Didn't make it out of qualifying in Melbourne, but is she ready to make an impact this season?

WERTHEIM: She's aggressively marketed. I give her that.

CLAREY: It's true (by IMG), but she's also had some pretty big results at an age when big results are rarely a coincidence.

TEBBUTT: She will break the sound barrier - but not the top five

CLAREY: She has a Hingis-like build and Sharapova-like volume...

BOUIN: Sounds a little like the baby Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe could have had: looking like him, intelligent like her.

Posted by Sherlock 01/18/2009 at 02:17 PM

Well, crap. Crazyone just beat me to it. Ha! :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/18/2009 at 02:17 PM

Good Morning Tribers,yeah,yeah,its nearly time for the 1st slam of the year,Monday 19th here,only 5 hrs to go,I am excited its seems live forever since the last one,bring it on I say.

Good luck to all players both in the men and women

Ok I will give my picks now

Woman Miss Vee

Men Rafa

I know I still think Roger is favourite but if Rafa does make it to the final with his head to head record I believe he can do it.I know its on a h/court bu to me this surface suits his game.

Miss Vee I think still carries momentum after a great last years run.I kniw little sis will have a big say also,Elena with her form also,Safina gee has to keep her head on,JJ has to attack more on a h/court surface for me.

So good luck one and all,also the the fans enjoy and have fun.

Posted by siggy 01/18/2009 at 02:18 PM

Hello Syd and Crazy, long time no yak!

Syd, Rogi's hair is so gravity-defying, people are looking for a rational explanation, that's all! ;) I, for one, could use whatever products he puts in his flowing locks, I wish he'd tell us!

Crazy, Chris Clarey rocks! I used to also like Simon Barnes waxing and waning, something tells me he's switched his radar onto the new British ossession known as murrayvitis (thanks, Hart!)....

Posted by Arun 01/18/2009 at 02:19 PM

Allez Roger!

A good one by Tom Perrotta:
http://tennisworld.typepad.com/string_theory/2009/01/remember-me-im.html

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