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Wimbledon: 2008 Revisited 06/19/2010 - 8:31 AM

Cover.HardcourtConfidential On the eve of Wimbledon, I thought it might be a nice idea to re-visit the epic Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal final of 2008, just to remind us how hard to wish for a reprise of that battle. But let's look at it through the eyes of Patrick McEnroe, who shares his thoughts on the match in his new book, Hardcourt Confidential: Tales from Twenty Years in the Pro Tennis Trenches.

Stay tuned as we continue our final countdown to Wimbledon. Bobby Chintapalli will be back tomorrow, with some thoughts on the WTA action.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

-- Pete

I intently watched Nadal, and his entourage suffering in the player’s guest box, as the young Spaniard flopped into his chair on the changeover at the end of the fourth set of the Wimbledon final of 2008.

Toni Nadal, Rafa’s coach and uncle, dropped his head to the railing in the player guest box. Rafa’s father Sebastian stood up and he must have told Toni not to do that, because in a moment his brother was bolt upright again. It was a momentary lapse, a show of despair from a straightforward, even- tempered guy who’s anything but obsessed with winning and losing. What he’s obsessed with— and it shows in his nephew’s conduct and words— is character.

101980353 Toni Nadal used to make Rafa play with poor quality equipment,just to show him that he had to buck up and play with the tools at his disposal. He forbade Rafa jamming his feet into his shoes without untying the laces: “Just because you get them for free doesn’t mean you can ruin them; many people work very hard just to be able to afford the shoes you get for free.” He made Rafa sweep the court before and after practice session, even after the boy had become a

Grand Slam champion. And he made Rafa carry his own bags. In 2005, Rafa scored one of the fi rst big wins on hard courts, winning the big Masters 1000 My ESPN booth-mate Cliff Drysdale and I worked that match, and we were scheduled to call the first match of the Cincinnati Masters, fewer than Twenty- four hours after later. We groused and complained about having to be at the airport to catch a flight on a small commuter airline at six in the morning after the Montreal fi nal, and when we got to the airport we were surprised to see we weren’t the first of the tennis people to arrive.

Toni Nadal and Rafa were already standing in line, patiently waiting to check their bags. “Well,” I said to Cliff. “If Rafa can do it, I guess we can, too.” By then, Rafa’s great rival, Roger Federer, was traveling exclusively by private jet; in fact, after Novak Djokovic beat Rafa and Roger, in back- to- back matches at the same Montreal event in 2007, Roger decided to spare Rafa the indignities of the Com- Air check- in line and gave him a lift to the next event in his private jet.

But back to that fourth set changeover. If Toni had surrendered to despair at the end of that fourth set, I could only imagine what Rafa himself felt. But it was impossible to tell. Beads of perspiration dripped from his damp, dark hair as he sat. He looked curiously at peace with himself, not by any means resigned. He held his chin high and gazed off into the distance, as if
he were watching some strange object crawling across the horizon.

He was devoid of visible emotion, although he had plenty of reason to be captive to feelings, most of them bad. Nadal had won the first two sets by identical 6– 4 scores, setting the stage for the one thing no one had expected: a blowout. He came within a hair’s breadth from winning this match in straight sets, 6– 4, 6– 4, 6– 4. But he faltered, ever so slightly, and lost his momentum.

With the help of rain delays, Federer had found a way back into the hunt. He chipped away at Nadal’s huge lead, and won that third set. And not long after that he had stared down one match point and faced another in the tiebreaker.

 Everyone knows how that 2008 final turned out: Nadal finally won it, 9– 7 in the fifth, under light conditions so poor that had it not developed into the greatest tennis match of our time, it might have been called because of darkness before the last ball was hit.I was really curious to find out what Nadal had been thinking on that changeover at the start of the fifth set, and I found out soon enough. He told us in response to the very first question asked at the official post- match press conference. Did you think you’d blown it after failing to convert those two fourth- set match points?

These were his exact words: “I just reminded myself that I am still here. The match is not over, we are at two sets all. When I lost the fourth set I was sitting down, and just say [to myself], ‘Well, I am playing well, I am doing well, I am with very good positive attitude, so gonna continue like this and wait, wait what’s happening. I feeled confident with myself, so for that reason I was confident on the match . . .”

And that, right there, is one of the major keys to Nadal’s success - and a pretty good explanation of how the guy was able to complete what started out as an impossible mission— to catch and eventually eclipse Federer (albeit briefly), and to bring him down on his own turf.

Every player in a tough match, even at a small club tournament, tells himself: Hey, it’s about now. Forget what happened two moments ago, or back in the first set. Stay in the now. Love the game, indulge your passion for it. Players strive mightily to think that way, and it’s a message I’m always trying to drill into my kids. But it may be the hardest of all things to do in this game. And Nadal had the poise, mental discipline, and the deep confidence to not only think but live that mandate in what had to be the darkest hour of his career.

In the aftermath, people inevitably compared the match with its predecessor “the greatest Wimbledon battle of the Open era,” [my brother] John’s clash with Björn Borg in 1980— the five- set war that featured what is now known simply as The Tiebreaker. John won that fourth- set
tiebreaker, 18– 16, saving a handful of match points along the way.

Like everyone else, John expected that his performance in that tiebreaker might break Borg’s steely spirit, but the Swede overcame the devastating effect of that lost breaker to take the match, 8– 6 in the fifth.

The comparison is specious, and if anything it’s unfair to Nadal.In 1980, Borg was already a Wimbledon champion; he was gunning for an outrageous fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, while John had just one major title, earned at the previous year’s US Open. Borg, like Federer (who already had five Wimbledon trophies in 2008), was the more accomplished, experienced favorite.

Sure, you can appreciate the pressure Björn felt as John, an explosive upstart, set about hunting him down. Roger probably experienced the same apprehensions. But could anyone have more confidence to draw on, more reason to believe that he could, and would, win than Borg— or Federer?  John, also the hunter, did not win his ultimate Wimbledon showdown. Rafael Nadal did.

It’s funny, but there’s nothing earth shattering or especially insightful in Nadal’s explanation of what he was thinking. If you’re unfamiliar with tennis, you might even shrug and say it amounted to a string of typical jock clichés.

Some players say something like that, and you think, The guy is full of crap. He’s just talking. . .

But when Nadal says such obvious, simple things, you really believe him. When he says he feels content, even though he lost in the semifi nals of the US Open because “being one of the last four is good, no?,” you believe him because— because you just know it’s coming from his heart, and because he’s right. He makes his point in a way both innocent and preemptive, like a wise child pointing out the obvious to a confused and overly analytical adult.

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Posted by leigh 06/19/2010 at 08:45 AM

First -

Posted by leigh 06/19/2010 at 08:50 AM

Loved this story.
I remember when Toni put his head down on the rail.
Rafa so close....... I also remember in the post-match interview
when Rafa was asked how he felt when he blew those two match points
in the fourth, and Rafa said he did not blow-it. That on those two points,
Roger came up with something great. It was such a great interview.
Thanks for the memories!!

Posted by AB 06/19/2010 at 08:51 AM

Thanks, Pete. Whets the appetite for W2010.

Posted by thebigapple 06/19/2010 at 08:52 AM

Spoiled my morning.

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl FORZA ITALIA!!!) 06/19/2010 at 08:56 AM


Posted by Honeychile 06/19/2010 at 08:58 AM

Sweet memories. Thanks Pete. Hope we will see another awesome match between these 2 greats in 2 weeks!

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl FORZA ITALIA!!!) 06/19/2010 at 08:58 AM

guys i'll see u who knows when, i'm off to paris then london, while wimby is playing lol, who'd a thunk it? not me anyhoo, maybe i'll get near a cyber-shop, pay for internet, enjoy the firt sunday,i'll be in the plane...

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 09:12 AM

@tba: LOL and ditto

Posted by citrus 06/19/2010 at 09:32 AM

did 2009 happen?

Posted by citrus 06/19/2010 at 09:33 AM

ugggghhhh... not 2008!

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 09:55 AM

JK, citrus, thebigapple: Pete is trying to promote his book. What better way than re-telling the greatest match in tennis history. Although PMac impressions kinda sound eeily similar to what Wertheim wrote in his book.

Posted by the dailylama 06/19/2010 at 10:05 AM

My cousin told me that some five years ago, waiting to get into the clay court in Manacor (Mallorca) was asked by Toni if they were going to play there. My cousin answered "yes we are", and Rafa , by then #2 in the world, swept the court for them. It´s not a tale. It´s a true story.
Wimbly draw looks awful, Roger once again the lucky one, but Rafa is on course to lift the trophy again. I simply love this guy. Bring it home Rafa!

Posted by Neveah 06/19/2010 at 10:24 AM

Thank you for making me smile Pete.=) I remember this match like it happened last night,I screamed and jumped up and down,the police were called but I didn't get arrested that night.;)*giggles* Bring on Wimby!!! Vamos Rafa!!!

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/19/2010 at 10:39 AM

Is this the match where Federer crapped the bed the first two sets, was down a break late in the third, faced two championship points in the fourth set breaker, and never, EVER had any business seeing the gloaming of the fifth set? Yeah, vaguely remember it. 2008, you say?

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/19/2010 at 11:27 AM

Don't remember Federer being down a break in the third, but he was down 0-40 on his serve and came back to win that game. I couldn't believe it! Rafa had chances to finish in straight sets. Oh well, the match turned into one of the best in history and Rafa still won, so can't complaint too much about the lost opportunity, lol.

Posted by Ruth 06/19/2010 at 12:23 PM

"Hope we will see another awesome match between these 2 greats in 2 weeks!"

Nah! Not me! I'm hoping for something different in 2010, with at least one different participant in the finals, and definitely a different winner! :-)

I'm glad to see that PMac is among those of us who think that, even allowing for those "polite lies" that I mentioned a couple days ago, Nadal's basic modesty and humility are real. We could be wrong, but, somehow, I doubt it.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines 06/19/2010 at 12:26 PM

dinara safina out of wimbledon... :(

Posted by Pat frm Philippines 06/19/2010 at 12:30 PM

dinara out: low back injury... my oh my...

Posted by london 06/19/2010 at 12:34 PM

Time for my world famous predictions of WTA Grand Slams: Wimbledon 2010 Edition

Round of 16:
Serena def. Sharapova
Radwanska def. Li
Azarenka def. Wozniacki
Stosur def. Rezai
Henin def. Clijsters
Wickmayer def. Jankovic
Bartoli def. Dushevina
Venus def. Groenefeld

Serena def. Radwanska
Azarenka def. Stosur
Henin def. Wickmayer
Venus def. Bartoli

Serena def. Azarenka
Venus def. Henin

Venus def. Serena and collect her 6th and final Wimbledon title.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/19/2010 at 12:41 PM


My hopes and wishes for Vee too ! If only ...

Very sad news re Dinara - I do hope that this isn't the end for her, ;(

Posted by Ruth 06/19/2010 at 12:47 PM

Ah, well! I guess my Roddick-Safina Bus just went back to being the RAndy Bus as it was last year.

Sorry, Dinara.

Posted by observer (Go Roger, Maria and the USA) 06/19/2010 at 12:52 PM

Poor Safina. That could have been a good first round against A-L Groenefeld.

I'm so excited for the SP!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 01:05 PM

Wow, this news about Dinara is not good. Commies to her many fans here, especially AM and Angel, stalwart Dinara fans that they are. Really sad to see this and one wonders whether she will be able to get back to the top of the game.

@Ruth, feel free to drive the RAndy/Venus bus now *buys ticket and pays driver*

Posted by Ruth 06/19/2010 at 01:16 PM

++@Ruth, feel free to drive the RAndy/Venus bus now *buys ticket and pays driver*

That's right, Karen. I'll think about that. There's no reason why I have to limit my bus designation only to players who've never won Wimbledon -- although that (rooting for someone who'd be a new winner), I have to admit, has been my Bus raison d'etre. :)

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/We gonna see, no?) 06/19/2010 at 01:20 PM

Mornin' y'all. Congrats to Justine and Makarova fans. Commies to fellow Petko and Vika fans.

Also commies to fellow Dinara and Elf fans, as well as the long-suffering Ernie fans.

Gah. Today sucks (tennistically).

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/We gonna see, no?) 06/19/2010 at 01:22 PM

Whew. My bad. The Elf article I saw was actually from May. No new (bad) news on that front.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/19/2010 at 01:30 PM

Yeah, I was on the Roddick bus last year, even rooting against my guy Fed in the final. Don't know if I'm feeling it this year, but reserves the right to jump the bus mid- or late tournament. Dream scenario (at this point) would be a Fedal final in which Fed thrashes the humble, modest, politely lying Spaniard -- something like four, one and three. I know. Fat chance. But hey, we're just dreaming here.

If it's a Fedal final in reality, I'm sure I'll be living yet another nightmare.

Posted by espnalanaldo 06/19/2010 at 01:36 PM

Yes, Wimby 2008 is indeed the greatest tennis match of all time. The winner --- Nadal.

And he did it again, in the semifinal with Verdasco at the 2009 Australian Open.

That steely and brave yet innocent disposition coupled by incredible and explosive athleticism are what makes Nadal the greatest player of his generation. And he is still rewriting whatever Roger has done. And more.

That 2008 Wimby is proof that Rafa is not just getting closer and closer to beating Roger in grass, but has actually done it. This, in contrast to Roger's arrogant claim in 2008 that he is getting closer and closer to beating Rafa in clay. He hired the reknowned Jose Higueras as coach and what happened? Roger was trashed (Jmac's description), pasted and bageled in the most lopsided final in Roland Garros history of a N1. vs. N2. Pretty pathetic Grand Slam final.

I believe that Nadal and his camp, have been patient and strategic in their goals.
First, master Clay, which they did. Then, master grass, --- Nadal almost won 2007 Wimby except for the scary injury episode which I am sure unnerved him, thus losing the match), but conquered grass the next year in five, thrilling, out-of-this world sets.
Having mastered, clay, then moved on to hardcourts, got in semis at USO but hit pay dirt at the golden Olympics and OZ Open.

Then, unfortunately he got injured. No problem, regroup. In no time, becomes the rightful Number ONE again. Just like that, 7 grand slams at 24, 18 Masters 1000 at 23, Olympic GOLD in SINGLES, first to do Clay-Grass double since Borg, The one and only CLAY SLAM, etc. Who cares about 285 weeks. It is Quality over Quantity.

And his new style of play now shows. The naysayers are stupid in saying that Nadal is not the same vintage 2008 Nadal. What? He is a lot better than 2008!!!

This is the new RAFA 2.0G

Next stop to master, Hardcourts -- USO.

And it is coming!!!

Posted by Ruth 06/19/2010 at 02:24 PM

AF: I'll save you a seat (and some refreshments) on the Roddick Bus if/when you decide to join us. I had to root against Fed and Rafa last year, but that wasn't a big problem for me because Andy (like Venus among the women) is my #1 fave among my 5 ATP faves (Rafa and Roger are merely #3 and #4 :)). And I've always reserved the right to root for #1's when they play others from my 5 faves. :)

Posted by Anon 06/19/2010 at 02:34 PM

Well of coarse Rafa is humble. He told us so himself.:-)

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/19/2010 at 03:16 PM

Thanks, Ruth. ;) Roddick's my #2 and I was transfixed via streams of his Hewitt QF (though the latter was marred by Pat Cash's commentary) and his Murray SF (which was about as good as a four-set match can get). And I loved how the British crowd reacted. Subdued, of course, but totally respectful/classy. Roddick's run last year was very moving, or about as moving as tennis can ever get. At least in my book.

So now I know your #s 1, 3 and 4; who's your #2?

Posted by Ruth 06/19/2010 at 03:26 PM

#2 James Blake

I have not yet replaced my #5 -- Gonzo -- whom I jettisoned from the select group in 2008. But I have several replacements under consideration (just so hard to choose).

Posted by Simoneta 06/19/2010 at 03:39 PM

"John, also the hunter, did not win his ultimate Wimbledon showdown. Rafael Nadal did."

Huh? John Mcenroe beat Bjorn Borg in the next year's final 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 to win his first Wimbledon title. And Borg thinks that was a final he should have won.

Posted by CL 06/19/2010 at 03:43 PM

Anon - hee.

Sorry if this is old news, but apparently Wild Thing Gulbis is out of Wimbles...muscle tear in his thigh that hasn't healed as fast as they thought. Trying to find a link but it is all in Latvian. any Latvian speakers here? Anyway, good news for Rafa...though even if Ernsie had played, he would have been so rusty hard to imagine him giving Rafa any real trouble.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 03:53 PM

Another Wimby withdrawal - Martinez Sanchez has withdrawn. At this rate, they may have to redo the draw :)

Posted by adicecream 06/19/2010 at 03:54 PM

I'm glad to see another Blake fan, Ruth. I keep telling myself he is no longer my favorite, but my first act after the draw was published was to look for him. Didn't like what I saw with Rafa in the second round, but.... With my next favorite, Del Potro, out I need someone to cheer for. Or maybe I will just enjoy the tennis.

Posted by vetmama 06/19/2010 at 04:12 PM

Noooo. Ernie!

Well, that probably lightens up Rafa's load in his quarter. I still thought it unlikely that Gulbis would be able to tame Rafa unless it was an RN off-day, because Rafa is so tenacious, but it will still probably make his draw less stressful.

I think Soderling is Rafa's main threat, as long as Robbie Ginepri doesn't pull a surprise upset in the first round.

Posted by zenggi 06/19/2010 at 04:22 PM

Good evening,
Just back from Hertogenbosch. Justine will have to improve a lot if she wants to win Wimbledon. Andrea could have won in two sets (as she could have won yesterday) if she had hold focus for two more games. A pity because she hits the ball and the serve very hard, her backhand and slices are efficient and her forehand was working all-right. Besides she is beautiful though she could have chosen a longer dress and she should never have started shouting "Auf", "Aufa", "Aufpa" as the match went on. Justine is such a tough customer with so much experience and turned the match when Andrea's form and legs where spent. Probably because of the long match yesterday. Anyway I will follow her from now on. A pleasure to watch such clean shots when she is on
Justine got a lot of support from the crowd which may have not been fair to Andrea. But she is a neighbour of us so there. I was really hoping from Andrea to win. A pity.

The mens final was soooo dissapointing. It was played first and rightly so allowing the public to forget it asap as it was over. Nothing was working for Tipsarevic today. What a contrast with yesterday SF against Becker! Kudos to Sergey for keeping focus when Janko's histrionics appeared on court. At the end Janko just gave his last two games away. I'm sorry for Stakhovsky because he rightly deserved the win and I like his style a lot. The trophy ceremony was cut short because of the rain. In total one hour.

Between the two finals: Football! There were 3 big screens (two in centre court and another bigger one by the terrace of the restaurants area and a few normal TV screens everywhere in every shop and bar. You couldn't miss the match Holland-Japan if you wanted. Score 1-0 for us. We'll take it

If Denmark wins against Cameroon (now playing), we are the first team to get through to the next tie. Yay!

Posted by Colette 06/19/2010 at 04:39 PM

Ruth, if you're around ... well, no box of pennies, but there is a rather sweet little trophy for the Unicef Open (Photo Wire on home page)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 04:41 PM

guys, these withdrawals are nuts! what the neck is going on? I really hope pete will do a piece on this. Is it calendar related? surfce related? or just a couple of bad years.

anon: when did rafa say he was humble? seriously, i'm not aware of this.

tba: sorry this "ruined" your day but the other day you got to enjoy reading about Roger the Prince (while rafa was a stalling, picking, pissing mess) so I guess today's our turn. :)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 04:43 PM

Ruth: did you see my post to you on another thread about dreads?

Posted by Arun 06/19/2010 at 04:59 PM

zenggi: Thanks for the report. Yeah. Petko has got game and she seems/sounds genuinely cool too. What not to like?
I didn't watch the Men's final. Re Tipsy's histrionics -- what did he do?

Posted by Simoneta 06/19/2010 at 05:00 PM

Annie, anon, Rafa has said that many times, "I have a lot of humble. No?" "I am not so arrogant." etc.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 05:02 PM

How hard to wish for it? No. Sorry, no. Oh, no, no, nooooooo. No. Anything but that. Well, anything but Nadal winning Wimbles. But Fedal final? I'd rather have a hundred paper cuts and accidentally get squirted with lemon juice.

And yeah. I said it. Anybody but Nadal. And before I get clobbered, it's not about meanness or really wishing ill on anyone. I've just seen the guy win enough times over the years and there have been too many moments of extreme pain watching Roger lose to him. And before anyone says it, I will too: I definitely understand those who feel the same way about Roger, and I know that Roger has won way more. That's sports rooting for ya. Nothing rational about it. :)

So. Roger or a new champ, please. Preferably the long suffering Roddick.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 05:04 PM

And yay! Ruth and I kinda sorta maybe agree again. Except for the Roger winning part. :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:14 PM

Good Morning Everyone,

Goodness me more withdrawls for Wimbledon.

Pat thanks soo much for doing the 2nd set match call in the Azarenka match I got a o/seas phone call.Sad for Azarenka I hope those knees will be ok she was in pain.

Good win for Markarova though coming through qualifers.

Zengii thanks for the report.

Miss Tar good to see you

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 05:15 PM

Hi AM! Nice to see you too.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:17 PM

Oh no not Wimby 2008 revisted

I spent the last set outside and could not watch,I told me family to let me know if Rafa would ever have match point and to let me know.

Well Briony screamed at me and said Rafa was serving for the match I raced inside we both cried and hugged each other.

Amazing.Thank goodness for my Rosary Beads.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 05:18 PM

Yaay Tari, how you doing girl? Trust that all is well with you in your world.

@Annie, I think one of the issues that the Tour needs to look at is the technology that is being employed by racquet manufacturers these days. When I watched a replay of the French Open women's final, John McEnroe made mention that the new strings and racquet technology that is now being employed by some manufacturers, chief among them being Babolat, is leading a worrying trend when it comes to injuries being sustained by players.

He said that the new strings and racquets while giving players lots of spin, will eventually destroy their shoulders because of the tension on the shoulders of players. Notice in recent times how many players are coming on court with their shoulders carrying tape. It is more noticeable on the women because their arms are bare but I would not be surprised if players like Nadal and others who use Babolat are not experiencing the same thing. As recently as last year Roddick had shoulder problems. Perhaps the Tour needs to meet with racquet manufacturers or try to establish some ground rules that says you cannot use certain types of strings or something.

Perhaps others here who know the technology better can give some feedback.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 05:21 PM

Hey, Karen! Not bad at all. :) Hope the same for you.

I so want Roddick in the final this year. I know it doesn't look likely, but I'm wishing hard.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 05:22 PM

simoneta, Rafa has made many references to being "with humble". But he has never said "I am not so arrogant." that is not a fair quote.

In the absence last year of my main Spainish Attraction...I proudly rode the Rodibago all the way to the final. Was gutted for RAndy in the outcome.

It was fun on the Rodibago...good company, lots of beer and guacomole. good times! I suppose I'd like to grab a spot every other day.

And seriously, cross my Rafalovin heart...I'm hoping he comes good this. And if the final comes down to Andy and Rafa... its gonna be tough for this fan.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 05:23 PM

Tari, thanks for your honest post. That is fandom for you. You will never tire of seeing Roger win and I'll never tire of seeing Rafa win! But I do empathize with you being tired of seeing Rafa beat Roger. You and I do agree on Roddick however. There's a piece of me rooting for him big time this year.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:24 PM

Karen Sam Stosur also uses Babolat and uses the same new strings as Rafa.

She stated it does give her more spin.Well she uses a lot of spin on her shots already,also with her serve.Seeing she is muscular around the shoulder area,I wonder down the track though will she have any problems

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 05:25 PM

Rudy3: :))) ditto on the rafa/roddick thing.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 05:26 PM

Thanks, Annie. Yeah. For a while there I thought I wanted some Fedal, just so Roger could get some back. It ain't gonna happen. I waive the white flag. I prefer to call it a bad matchup for Roger. :)

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/19/2010 at 05:34 PM

Well it's 13-13 in the 2009 Wimby final on ESPNC right now. You can enjoy or cry!

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 05:36 PM

Karen, the tours could care less that players are running full bore on concrete for 10 months out of the year...doubt they care much about strings and shoulders.

no doubt technology is pushing the limits of physicality. How it affects players is individual. Depends on genetics, musculature and training.
I have studied biomechanics, so I find this stuff interesting. I once saw the question proposed about Rafa that fascinated me. That does his kness problems correlate with the fact that he is a natural righty who is playing lefty. Very interesting to me.

maybe one of these days Team Nadal will call me...and let me study the subject. I would start with his hip a purely clinical sense, of course :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:36 PM

Miss Tari No pizza throwing I hope? lol!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 05:38 PM

Tari, me and you both on the whole match up thing with Roger and Rafa. That is the main reason why I am so over it. After awhile you have to accept defeat.

For my money, I would be happy if neither Roger or Rafa make it to the final. Let us see what new blood the ATP has to offer. How about a win for poor Berdych. Toiling away all these years, has a very good game and still cannot cross the finish line. Soderling, retooled his game and did what he had to do. I know that Roddick is the sentimental favourite but how about this, Roddick has had many, many chances over the years. Yes, Roger has been there to thwart him, but it is not like Roddick never had chances when Roger was not there or when someone else took him out. Roddick has had 4 chances to win a Wimbledon title. 4 chances. Federer also had 4 chances to win at the FO and on the one occassion when Nadal was eliminated he made use of that chance and took it.

I honestly do not see Roddick winning Wimbledon this year or ever. I think he has put in yeoman's work to get to where he is. I would never discount that, but I also think that last year was perhaps the closest he was going to get and that backhand volley miss to go 2 sets to love up cost him. Tough break, but that is how I see it.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 05:40 PM

Oh, I hope CL will still throw me some pizza, AM. She buys the good stuff! ;-)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:41 PM

Rudy3 Do you still do biomechanics at all?

Interesting with the hip rotation theory?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 05:41 PM

JK: thanks for the string info. But aren't there many more knee injuries on the tours than shoulder? Other than sharapova and Randy, who else is having shoulder issues? Actually, there are several ab tear injuries popping up too. Maybe the strings and lighter raquets allow for much more power which makes covering the court and retrieving much tougher. The whole body starts to feel effects and break down. Have you noticed when you see those older matches between Evert and Martina and even the men, that they are absolutely not hitting the ball as hard. The game seems much slower back then. Serves weren't as fast (unless you were Roscoe Tanner) either.

So sorry to hear Dinara's still suffering with her back. I wonder how she got this injury? I doesn't sound like a tennis-type injury.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:42 PM

Miss Tari Yes she does lol!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 05:44 PM

@rudy3, thanks for that response as well as the biomechanics of Nadal serving lefty when he is a natural righty. Makes you wonder if that is not what is also affecting Sharapova as she is a natural lefty who plays right handed. I remember years ago an analyst on tv (think it was Martina) who said that Sharapova's technique on her forehand as well as on her serve would lead to her having shoulder problems because of the chicken wing technique that she used.

Martina (or whomever it was) stated that Sharapova's forehand did not leave her body as loosely as it should. At the time I did not understand a word she was saying but after playing for awhile myself I can sort of understand where she was coming from.

Posted by Jenni 06/19/2010 at 05:46 PM

Annie, I know back in '07/'08 Del Potro was having similar lower back problems (he had to w/d from several matches that I can recall), so I wonder if it has anything to do with height and the strain that puts on the spine.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 05:47 PM

sisu! hi, :( I don't get espnClassic unfortunately. That was such a stressful last 37+ games...truly one of the greatest contests I've ever seen. In some ways, for sheer adrenaline inducing excitement, more compelling than the 08 final (to me anyway).

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:49 PM

Jenni Safina had that lower disc problem which has begun to fracture? being tall and also her service action dosent help.

I honestly fear for her in ways.So young too.I wonder if she changed her action at all would this help?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 05:51 PM

JK: martina makes some great observations. whenever i've tried to do anything with my non-dominant hand I'm amazingly uncoordinated and jerky, so Maria might have a teeny little bit of that as well. I can't imagine being able to do it.

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/19/2010 at 05:54 PM

Hi Annie, not to take anything away from Rafa's 2008 win, I too found the 2009 more compelling also.

Posted by Ruth 06/19/2010 at 05:55 PM

Hey, adicecream, Annie, Colette, Tari...I'm having one of those days when I'm rnning in and out of the house. But wanted to say that I saw yur comments directed to me.

Colette: What did the Unicef trophy look like? A box of pennies would have been more fun. :)

Annie: I missed the "dresds" comment. Please tell me where I can find it. OK? I'll check fr it when I get back home tonight.

Well, I'm off again...told my big brother to take a nap after I brought him home from the airport an our ago, and now I must wake him so we can get ready to go out to a barbecue with friends.

Ah, why do I have to leave just when all my TW faves are here?!?!?!

Posted by Jenni 06/19/2010 at 05:55 PM

AM, I fear for her too. Whatever happens, I hope she and her team make a decision that's based on what's best for her long-term health.

Posted by Simoneta 06/19/2010 at 05:58 PM

rudy3- "But he has never said "I am not so arrogant." that is not a fair quote."

Rafa has said that before. Its a true quote.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 05:58 PM

Jenni Me too. I am worried that she has pulled out of Wimby? though if she feels she cant contest at least now she is not pushing things like before.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 05:59 PM

Maria's FH technique to me always looks like a kid who is playing with a racquet that is too heavy and she doesn't have the strength. Which, of course is nonsense. its just how her technique developed.

AM, back before Starbucks ruled the earth, I go a master's degree in the biomechanics of human movement. today I am a high school dance teacher. And i work with alot of break dancers. Kinesilogy and all that stuff has always fascinated me.

When I watch Dinara serve, I am not surprised by her back problems. Back when Novak was a contender, I thought his serve motion was going to give him back problems. Now when I watch him serve I wonder if his mechanical problems are head driven or a compenstation for a developing back issue.

I watch Andy Roddick, and the guy is blessed with a rotator cuff that has the flexibility of a rubber band. Sadly, his ankles and hips...not so much.

Federer is blessed with a perfect skeletal system, that is supported by a superb musclular system, thus allowing him to develope into a technical marvel of a tennis player.

i just notice stuff like this...

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 06:02 PM

@Annie, there may be more shoulder injuries than we know. Most of the player's upper torso is covered so it could be that they are wearing tape on their upper bodies, shoulders etc of which we are not aware. In addition, many of them are also having wrist injuries as well. We may not know whether they are carrying wrist injuries because quite a number of them wear the very large wrist bands that cover their wrists and so any bandages that might be there could very well be hidden.

Ana is another player that I have recently been seen sporting tape on her shoulder.

As to the players of the 70s and even 80s, watching those matches, yes you can see that they did not have a lot of pace on their shots. Even those who had thrown out the wooden racquets were still playing no pace shots (or at least it looks that way on tv). It could very well be that because the game has become so much power packed, injuries to joints are becoming more and more frequent amongst players.

As to the schedule, in an article that someone emailed me here, one of the problems in scaling back the schedule is that while the higher ranked players want a shorter season, the lower ranked players as well as those who play doubles, actually need a longer schedule. The harsh thing is that it is the higher ranked players who generate income for the Tour and so the Tours hurt when higher ranked players cannot compete due to injuries.

Something has to be done or we will find that the lifespan of a tennis player may be shorter than that of the latest kitchen appliance.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 06:03 PM

Ruth: it was a quick question about dreadlocks. We white folk call them "dreads" and I was wondering if that was a real no-no. I think they're cool, and apparently not easy to attain (takes a couple of years, right?) Real locks (i CAN get used to calling them that) are quite different from how the WS were wearing their hair with the beads.

Posted by Jenni 06/19/2010 at 06:05 PM

Marg, I get the feeling there's a lot going on behind the scenes that we don't know about. Considering how psychologically dependent she was on Zeljko, I wonder about her emotional state. She needs to get mentally and physically healthy first, before worrying about playing tournaments.

I'm not a creepy Dinara stalker, I swear. :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 06:08 PM

Rudy3 Interesting observations with players

I agree with Novak and his serve,though his serve now is soo different than 08

Also his arm is straight on the back swing and there is no bend in it? less power behind the serve to me.

Roger I agree has the "ultimate" body shape for a tennis player,apart from his natural shot making ability which dosent place soo much tension on the body.He has been soo fortunate with injuries in his career.

Posted by Andrew 06/19/2010 at 06:12 PM

Afternoon, all.

One observation which seems to be hiding in plain sight is that Nadal, now 24 and a GS champion 7 times over, is described in HC Confidential (and many other places) in terms which ask the reader to see him as child-like: "He makes his point in a way both innocent and preemptive, like a wise child pointing out the obvious to a confused and overly analytical adult."

I genuinely find this curious. I believe it's a significant part of Nadal's appeal, but I can't think of another major sports figure who is viewed this way.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 06:13 PM

Jenni You are flat out stalking me forget about anyone else lol!

Thats a 24 hour job in itself methinks.

I still noticed recently in her games eg RG she was frustrated out on court.Though I think too a lot of it was cause she could not get any rhythm going in her matches.Which in ways is understandable.

Small steps.Though I agree with you there is probrably a lot more going on that we dont know about.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 06:13 PM

Annie, I can answer that for you. Dreadlocks originated in Jamaica during the 50s and 60s during the whole Rastafari movement. Those who practiced this form of religion took their cue from the book of Leviticus which prohibits men from cutting their hair, hence the men and women who practice this faith do not cut their hair but allow it to grow uncombed. Back in the day bees wax was used to moisten the hair to keep it well groomed.

Rastafarians in Jamaica are divided into tribes, i.i. the 12 tribes of Israel and they are of the belief that Haile Selassie, being a descendant of King David (who wrote the Psalms) was a descendant of the 12 tribes of Israel.

In Jamaica, true believers of Rastafari practice a very spartan way of life, live in communes where the women are separated from the men at that time of the month and wear long dresses/skirts and head wraps. The children's hair are also locked from they are very small. For more on Rastafari you can read it here

In the 90s it became popular for artistes in Jamaica to start wearing dreads because of the popularity of reggae, especially after the music became recognised at the Grammys. People like these however are not true purveyors of the faith so they are usually called "punky dreads" LOL
Sorry for the OT post

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 06:17 PM

@Andrew, that is a very astute observation regarding everyone's perception that Nadal is a child. I will go even further and say that most of his fans tend to see him that way as very young and innocent, forgetting that at 24 he is really old in tennis years.

Posted by Neveah 06/19/2010 at 06:22 PM

Melanie Oudin will replace Safina and be seeded 33.

Annie,Yes dreads are different from what Serena and Vee had with the beads. Those were just cornrows ,you're able to take those down. Dreads have to be cut out.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 06:22 PM

Well maybe in ways Rafa does appear "child like" he entered the ATP tour young.To me just turning 24 years of age I still feel he is a Boy.Maybe thats the mother image coming out in me lol!

Maybe thats the attraction.Though I have listened and read interviews with him over the years and to me he is mature beyond his years.

He has a very grounded approach to life.Maybe Uncle Toni over the years has instilled at lot of this values in Rafa.

Remember too he has coached Rafa since the age of 4.

Parents,teaches in ways shape us.Though these are only guide lines.

Its up to us later to develop our own princepals on how we view life.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 06:26 PM

Andrew, I remember back in the day that, believe or not, Mike Tyson was discribed this way. Surely it had to do with that helium induce voice, but also in speaking he was, childlike and almost whimsical. And then in the ring, he was brutal. Of course there were other issues...

As we know, the media tag you with a persona, and then you get to keep it, unless you do something drastic to change it. Rafa was described as a man/child back to 05. I think some of this comes from his early english. I don't here these types of observations from the spainish press.

My opinion...Patrick McEnroe has always been a bit condesending about Rafa.

Posted by Kombo 06/19/2010 at 06:31 PM

I almost barfed halfway through this ode to Rafa's childlike innocence.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 06:44 PM

"Toni Nadal and Rafa were already standing in line, patiently waiting to check their bags. “Well,” I said to Cliff. “If Rafa can do it, I guess we can, too.” By then, Rafa’s great rival, Roger Federer, was traveling exclusively by private jet; "

Ofcourse, Pat McEnroe fails to mention that Roger used to travel by commercial till winning his 10th slam. Besides, dosen't Roger get sponsered to travel by private jet??? So, he should refuse a sponsership so that he appears humble or whatever???

I disagree with statements like this which are built up to portray one player...and put down another. ITs good that Rafa is down-to-earth...but its not a black mark on Roger, just because he is sponsored by Netjets.

Besides, why is it lost on people that Roger also traveled commercial till his 10th slam...till he was sponsored?

Also,I sometimes disagree the way Ernie is portrayed in the same manner...its none of anybody's business how players really travel, isn't it? Ernie saying he has a spaceship was one of the best lines i have heard on the topic.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/19/2010 at 06:47 PM

Just saw that Oudin will be replacing Dina. This from the UK's Guardian, "The newest player causing sleepless night among the top 2O is 18 year old Melanie Oudin." LOL, this is hysterical.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 06:55 PM

Hear, hear, ladyjulia. It's something that has always irked me. The idea that Roger has had a life of way more privilege than Nadal. Or that Nadal forgoes the luxuries. It's silly and petty. But many fans perpetuate it as well.

Both men have had privileged early childhoods and have worked hard to enjoy the blessings their families and hard work has provided for them. Nadal was just sporting a half a million dollar watch, no? Not so "every man"! :)

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 07:09 PM


"Both men have had privileged early childhoods and have worked hard to enjoy the blessings their families and hard work has provided for them."

Absolutely true!

Also..if i am not wrong...i read somewhere (maybe WSJ) that Rafa bought the latest car that was in the James Bond movie after he won Wimby 2008..but I read it long time ago..but all i still hear is about the Kia.

And Murray bought a Ferrari or something? So, he's not humble or something?I don't get this...its their earned money...they can choose what they want to do with it.

So, Rafa carries his own bags...who carries them for Roger in Dubai I wonder?? Mirka? His Dad? Luthi? Dosen't Murray carry his own bags..or does he make Miles carry them???

They say Rafa stood in line at the airport...does Murray barge his way,pushing everybody through when he travels commercial?

I never get these comparisons or statements...

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 07:10 PM


"Both men have had privileged early childhoods and have worked hard to enjoy the blessings their families and hard work has provided for them."

Absolutely true!

Also..if i am not wrong...i read somewhere (maybe WSJ) that Rafa bought the latest car that was in the James Bond movie after he won Wimby 2008..but I read it long time ago..but all i still hear is about the Kia.

And Murray bought a Ferrari or something? So, he's not humble or something?I don't get this...its their earned money...they can choose what they want to do with it.

So, Rafa carries his own bags...who carries them for Roger in Dubai I wonder?? Mirka? His Dad? Luthi? Dosen't Murray carry his own bags..or does he make Miles carry them???

They say Rafa stood in line at the airport...does Murray barge his way,pushing everybody through when he travels commercial?

I never get these comparisons or statements...

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 07:11 PM

"and I work with alot of break dancers" - ouch rudy3! LOVE the dancing but it always looked like it would hurt so much!

Posted by highpockets 06/19/2010 at 07:12 PM

When Rafa says "humble," he usually says something like "I must be humble." I can't find the exact quote, but when he spoke about being arrogant, it was in the same context, saying "I must not be arrogant."

I think he's just trying to remind himself and the press that he wants to keep things in proper perspective ... to stay humble and to not be arrogant. It's just the way he talks.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 07:17 PM

Pmac could have told that anecdote about rafa without mentioning roger at all! why did he do that? It really is annoying. I understand him wanting to tell the story of grumbling about the early travel only to get to the airport and see one of the finalists already there (I mean, I think that's a glimpse worth telling) but the fed reference was superfluous and only proves to anger fed fans. If I could travel private for the rest of my life I would do it in a heartbeat. I'd also tell tio toni, when it comes to travelling commercial, which is a nightmare, to shove his uber modesty right up his a......oh 'scuse me.

Posted by Pspace 06/19/2010 at 07:19 PM

""I never get these comparisons or statements""

It's not really a comparison. Some1 can be humble without some1 else being arrogant. And, some1 can be a beautiful player without some1 else being ugly. So on and so forth.

Anyway, Fedal seem so joined at the hip (at least at TW) that a statement about one is always taken to imply something about the other.

LOL, personally, I like the cliches...of the uber-talented arrogant Swiss slacker and the hard-working humble Spanish grinder. Both are, of course, very limited views. But they're fun!

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 07:20 PM

Also...on that note..apparently, Roger traveled commercial from Australia after winning his 16th slam..according to the British I think Netjets only sponsors his European travels.

But I always wonder why this is not talked about by the media???

And didn't Rafa once gave a lift to Ana Ivanovic once? So, it was a commercial flight he gave her a lift in?

I wonder what Pete thinks on this topic...

Posted by observer (Go Roger, Maria and the USA) 06/19/2010 at 07:21 PM

“Yes, and I have a helicopter, a submarine and a spaceship.”

I love Ernie. Everything he says is pure gold... and he's so introverted in some of the stuff he says, like about how he was happy for 10 minutes after he won his first title but immediately afterwards he felt empty. Count me as one of the people who hope that Ernie can somehow become the new Federer once Federer has reached 20+ slams. :)

Alternately, I would be happy with Kei Nishikori (though it seems like he may have been doomed from the start, injury-wise) or, depending on how his attitude develops, Bernie Tomic.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 07:21 PM

Rafa owning James Bond's car wouldn't fit the media narrative, ladyjulia. ;-) And I wouldn't mind nearly so much if they didn't try to *always* compare him to Roger. They most certainly are different. But not so much in the privilege department, and I'd expect Nadal to catch up on the jets and things if he continues to add slams. I just don't believe the "every man" meme for Nadal. That's not a dig. It's just the truth I see.

That said, rachael tweeted a pic of Roger with a scarf tied around his neck like a cravat on the grounds of Wimbles recently. Hilarious. I'll admit this doesn't help in the "every man" argument for him. LOL.

Posted by Pspace 06/19/2010 at 07:22 PM

Yeah Annie, I agree. If I have that much money, I'd do one of those Ally McBeal style entrances. Surround myself with eight supermodels, and have each of them carry one of my murses. Hehe...maybe I'll call one of them Humble, so I can be with her :-).

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 07:23 PM


""Toni Nadal and Rafa were already standing in line, patiently waiting to check their bags. “Well,” I said to Cliff. “If Rafa can do it, I guess we can, too.” By then, Rafa’s great rival, Roger Federer, was traveling exclusively by private jet; ""

PMac is not implying anything here...he clearly mentions Roger. And that information is not even correct. One of the rivals is sponsored...the other isn't. That information is not present in that article.

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