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In Broad Daylight 07/04/2010 - 2:59 PM

102617231 

by Pete Bodo

This time, it required no passing shots fired like small cannons into the deepening gloaming. No desperate second serves that traveled the razor's edge separating those two celebrated Wimbletwins, Triumph and Disaster. No brooding confrontations between fear and courage, both marinated in sweet perspiration that kept them slippery, grasped one moment, gone the next. No flashbulbs bursting like newborn planets in the twilight, and no scaling of the dusty green wall above which the stunned interested parties sat, awaiting the moment: The embrace.

If Rafael Nadal's first singles victory at Wimbledon, in 2008, remains an epic engraved forever on the soul of tournament and those who love it, his second one today was a clinical, almost antiseptic act of reaffirmation. Why go through all that again? Today, Nadal demolished Tomas Berdych, a lanky and late-blooming threat, unstable as acetone peroxide, who was unable to rally the kind of commanding, power-based tennis that had carried him to the final over the fortnight.

Nadal won it, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, as Berdych's nerves, game, or both failed him at inconvenient times. Thus Nadal became the first man since Bjorn Borg to complete the Channel Slam (back-to-back wins at Roland Garros and Wimbledon) more than once in the Open era. It wasn't very long ago that Borg's accomplishment seemed untouchable, not just because of Borg's game but—in theory—because of essential transformations in the game itself. Now, Nadal and Roger Federer have each done it. As Nadal said in his presser, "It didn't happen since Borg (1980), and now it happened for the past three years. How crazy is life?"

But let's get back to those critical moments in the match. With his punishing serve and quick-strike groundstrokes, Berdych is capable of holding serve until the cows, or John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, come home. But Nadal broke Berdych twice in the first set, and in the second set Nadal broke Berdych in what arguably was the most critical game of the match: the 13th. Had Berdych held there, the set would have gone to the tiebreaker and, against a guy like Berdych, that's always a crapshoot. Nadal also broke Berdych in what would be the final game of the match to clinch it 6-4.

You could argue that Berdych's greatest miscalculation was his stubborn refusal to go to a Plan B when Plan A (engaging Nadal in stock baseline-based play) clearly failed. But in each of the last two sets, Berdych matched Nadal, hold for hold, until deep into the set. So in the end, you can just as easily put down his loss to a failure of nerve. He failed to play the big points well. Berdych was 0 for 5 in break points, compared to Nadal's 4 for 6. If someone had told you before the match that there would be no tiebreakers, you would have known it would hardly be worth watching. Going into the match, Berdych had lost just seven service games; today he lost four, nearly 50 per cent of his tournament total.

But Nadal was broken just eight times in this tournament, a statistic that points to his serving efficiency as well as his generally high level of execution. After all, Nadal's 54 aces is barely half the number served up at Wimbledon by his final opponent (111). Berdych finished second on the ace list (behind John Isner, who served all of his in one match); Nadal finished tied for 22nd.

Still, as Toni Nadal, Rafa’s uncle and coach, told us about his nephew's general level of play: "It was as good as 2008. Maybe better, because he improve some things, like his serve."

Nadal's well-placed lefty slice, less effective for its pop than for its shrewd placement, has made his life easier on grass. But he wins on the surface for the same reason as the former player he most resembles, Borg. It's all about the legs. As he said, "I think I have very good thing for player here on grass—movement. I move well on the court, and that's a very important part of the game."

No secrets there. Berdych begged to differ and put it simply: "His biggest weapon is his left hand. It's not many players like that. It's really tough, you know, to find the right rhythm."

102617131And it's that much tougher when the most basic strength of your opponent exposes your most basic weakness. In this case, the quickness of Nadal matched with the relatively poor movement of Berdych. As the match wore on, Berdych's defense looked weaker and weaker; by the late stages, he was pushing feeble sliced backhands which, when they did make it over the net, were easy pickings for the swift Nadal.

How did he get so fast? "I think all my life I practiced with my high hundred percent of intensity in every ball in the practice. That's why today I am faster, no? Probably now I'm not practicing with the same intensity like when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I practiced—believe me—like crazy."

This appetite, even for a cradle-to-grave tennis pro, is slightly unusual, and it points to a more fundamental attribute that may be the wellspring of Nadal's style as well as his degree of success. That's his passion for the game, which is manifested in both subtle and obvious ways.

We all know that tennis players are coy, proud individuals. They claim never to read anything written about them, but you can catch them at the newsstand with an armload of papers. Once they're out of a tournament, they profess no interest in watching the grand finale. But I'll bet they sit there, doing sit-ups, tuned in to the broadcast, growling: That coulda been me.

When Nadal was asked the other day if he had watched last year's final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, he said, "I watched at home, on the sofa. Just enjoying the beautiful match. Was a very emotional match. I liked the tennis, so I enjoyed the match."

How often have you heard players, instead of transported fans, call tennis "beautiful?"

Of course, you don't get to be Rafael Nadal by enjoying the moment when you're actually playing out there; you get to be Nadal by living in it and most of all surviving it—even if you get the job done while the sun is still high and the shadows short, while spectators are appreciating every point instead of living—or dying —a little bit with each one.

Today was easy, although Nadal would be the last to tell you so. Don't you think he earned it?


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Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 01:58 PM

Rafa isn't going bald. He washes his hair before a match and it's never completely dried when he puts the headband on so it makes it look like he has a larger part and thinning hair. I saw the Nadal "adjustment" just prior to the two players walking out on court. T.V. should have blocked that out, Rafa was going right down the front of his pants. He's usually embarrassed about doing stuff like that on tv. He isn't embarrassed about picking the pants out of his butt though. I've seen his match at US Open a few years ago and he puts a towel over him between changeovers and does his "adjustments" under the towel.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/05/2010 at 01:59 PM

Hi AB!

all men, i have been told, lose some hair as they age. even those without the balding gene. Fed's hair might recede a wee bit, but nothing serious. Nothing to dull the impact his locks have on us.

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/05/2010 at 02:00 PM

Annie, during Rafa's interview on NBC yesterday, he mentioned something like "see you in Cincinnati"

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/05/2010 at 02:02 PM

ladyjulia:

5 consecutive Wimbys, leading Sweden (a nation of 10 million or so to the Davis Cup), winning the last 30 or so Davis Cup singles matches he played, and on and on.

Borg was a beast. It would take many more keystrokes than I can commit to him right now to do justice to his career.

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/05/2010 at 02:02 PM

Neilintoronto, I was thinking "Gluteus Maximus"

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/05/2010 at 02:04 PM

Colette: yeah, i heard that too, so he's skipping Toronto which comes first? I also heard him say "toronto, cincinnati, and new york" in yet another interview. Just thought it was weird that his website would say cincy.

tennisanyone: i don't think they had time to block it out. and anyway, it wasn't offensive. It wasn't like he was rooting around down there or anything..I mean, ya gotta do what ya gotta do in those situations.

Posted by ChannelSlam 07/05/2010 at 02:07 PM

Annie,
Thanks for pointing that out about Rafa's website next tournament section.
I was there this morning and didn't notice it. Some of his other non-offical sites still cite Toronto as his next tournament.
We'll see if there is a formal announcement at some point

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:07 PM

He looked like he was digging down there = he must have known he might have been on t.v. Andy Roddick is worse though - does it the whole match long. I call him "the scratcher".

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:08 PM

Andy Murray was really disgusting though - he is also a "scratcher" and I don't think he had any undies on. He was "au natural". I wouldn't mind that on anyone but him.

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:09 PM

I thought Bjorn Borg looked great. I loved the Borg/McEnroe rivalry. It's nice those two guys are friends for 30 years.

Posted by TeamNadal 07/05/2010 at 02:10 PM

RAFA PACKAGE ADJUSTMENT

This is BBC's version....OMG, the whole walk-through was HYSTERICAL...imagine if Berdych was walking behind him while he's doing this.....HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDRt1fajU4g

Posted by chicklet 07/05/2010 at 02:11 PM

tennisanyone - LOL! Have you ever thought about watching the ball instead? ;)

I've never noticed the Andys' propensity to adjust, but I'm sure I'll notice it now.

Posted by Ruth 07/05/2010 at 02:11 PM

beth: Thanks for the kind words @ 1:16. BTW someone posted a picture of Maid Marion last night, and she was also guilty of not attending to her pale feet.

I met with some of my old lady friends (not tennis fans) this morning, and they were all "gaga" about the picture of Rafa in today's Phila Inquirer sports section. Best looking tennis player they've seen in years etc etc etc. It's one of him after the match in his jacket with the high collar; he's holding the Wimby Cup in his left arm and hand, and his head is turned slightly away from the camera. I hadn't had a chance to read the paper before leaving home, but I checked the picture out when I returned home, and it is a nice picture -- rugged, serious look. But I like the pix with huge smiles/grins.


Grant: Sorry, I was focussing on the TW comments about the so-called "excuses" made by players, not so much those by the ladies and gents of the press. And I like your acronym.

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 02:12 PM

Lordy, we've gone from the top of the body to the nether regions. Can we elevate the discussion?

Colette: I like your new moniker.

MSF: I know you are old school, but what do you think about Borg quitting at the top? What kind of beast does that? I know he said tennis isn't fun anymore, but I think losing at the USO wasn't fun anymore.

One of the qualities in Rafa that I admire is that he will never quit trying to win USO as long as he's physically able.

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 02:15 PM

Grant: if you're still around, good post.

Ethan: you're still making me laugh with the 1-2 shoe slaps, but IKEA face was the funniest.

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/05/2010 at 02:16 PM

"Can we elevate the discussion?"

AB, pun intended?

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:17 PM

I liked Nadal's summersault at the end of the match - he looked rather "excited" when he was laying flat on his back.

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:18 PM

I enjoyed watching the 1980 match between Borg and McEnroe. These guys played great. They used wood rackets then and used finesse. Totally a different type of game than we see with today's players.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/05/2010 at 02:21 PM

AB:

I think it would be silly for me to try to psychoanalyze Borg. I'll leave that to Pete.

Kindly keep in mind that Borg had been on tour for nine years (I believe), when he effectively left the tour.

My sense is that he was largely burnt out.

By not racking up more majors, he took himself out of the GOAT discussion, but not out of the Beast discussion, IMSHEO.

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 02:21 PM

Hi Ruth:

Your bus may have stalled, but the Williams Nadal High Speed Train was another kind of delight.

Thank you for trying to effect a more enjoyable experience here.

There was some mod-ding going on a few days ago when I was bizarrely accused of impersonating an inanimate object after being continuously baited for several days.

It worked. I think mod-ding any forum is highly labor intensive and difficult to find the delta between cost effectiveness and utility.

Posted by Ruth 07/05/2010 at 02:23 PM

"I don't think Tim addresses any poster by name..."

ladyjulia: You and I must have very different ideas about what is considered baiting (and that's OK), or my reading of the reactions by other TWers to the aforementioned baiting (IMHO) comments must be flawed (that's possible).

But thanks for letting me know that I can't be accused even of personally criticizing a fellow poster since I mentioned no one "by name." ;-)

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 02:24 PM

Collete: heh, no. I would rather score Rafa's somersault. I gave it a 10.

MSF: Yay, A new discussion! Greatest Beast of All Time.

Posted by Grant 07/05/2010 at 02:24 PM

"Speaking of sun and pollution, i'm off to walk the dog in 33 degree heat, with 100 per cent humidity AND a pollution advisory....thanks Toronto Summers :)"

Every time last year that somebody complained that the summer was too cold, I wanted to smack them.

Posted by Fangorina 07/05/2010 at 02:24 PM

late to the tennis balding conspiracy discussion.... But fwiw, maybe too much sun on the top of the head combined with genetics leads us to this bald truth of our favorite male players.............. and I recall Pete Sampras saying that when he was going for his 6th year end number one ranking, his hair starting falling out in clumps from nerves.....

Posted by TeamNadal 07/05/2010 at 02:29 PM

"i don't think they had time to block it out. and anyway, it wasn't offensive. It wasn't like he was rooting around down there or anything..I mean, ya gotta do what ya gotta do in those situations."

2nd, it's LIVE TV, how would they have time to block it out? .....Roddick is always adjusting his stuff on court and if you've ever watched baseball, those guys do it CONSTANTLY

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/05/2010 at 02:30 PM

I think with his somersault, Rafa was telling us he's on a roll!

Posted by Fangorina 07/05/2010 at 02:30 PM

Team Nadal: that video of the walk cracked me up! The "adjustment" made me fall over! LOL!!!!!!!!

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:32 PM

That's why I don't watch baseball - too much spitting and scratching. Maybe Rafa will do a backwards summersault when he wins next year's Wimbledon. The hard courts of the US Open would be too hard to do a summersault on.

Posted by Tari 07/05/2010 at 02:32 PM

CL and Grant: Yes. :)

And CL, I love cuddly Mr. Fed. I DO hope Roger ends up looking like him. I think Rafa will look much like his dad as well when he gets older.

Posted by Colette (On Cloud 8) 07/05/2010 at 02:33 PM

Btw, re balding, I'm pretty sure James Blake's is "voluntary." Believe I once heard him say that his head was shaved after that horrible accident in Rome, and after that, he decided he liked it. He's gorgeous either way.

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:35 PM

I hope James Blake can get through a few rounds of the US Open. How old is he?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/05/2010 at 02:36 PM

TeamNadal: thanks for the youtube clip. and there it is at the very end. No one even remarked on it. Just making sure everything is in it's proper place before the big match..

Posted by CPM 07/05/2010 at 02:36 PM

I'm pretty sure if Roger would shave his head, the less top-heavy weight distribution would allow him to drive through his BH -- esp. DTL -- with more pace. Really, it's all that's standing between him an a Calendar Year GS at this point.
----
McEnroe was uncomfortably smitten with Borg's silver mane on Sunday. I mean, don't get me wrong -- Borg is the GHOAT, no questions asked, IMHO -- but this went beyond mere jealousy.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/05/2010 at 02:36 PM

There have already been two major league baseball players this year who have injured themselves while navigating the bases after hitting home runs.

And some professional soccer/futbol player broke his leg last year or the year before doing some celebratory flip.

So, I'd rather Rafa skip somersaults of any kind in the future.

And I hope he stays off that Harley he obtained last year or the year before.

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:37 PM

Annie - I noticed it right away - that's the only part of the match I remember. Who did Nadal play and who won the match?

Posted by CL 07/05/2010 at 02:38 PM

Colettee - I thought that James shaved his head when he lost a bet of some sort? And I think there was a charity invloved as well, though can't remember any of the details, natch. But though it was voluntary then, I am not sure how 'voluntary' it would be now if he let his hair grow out. Hard to say though, cause his wicked cute bother seems o have a full head of dreds..

Tari - totally agree about Robbie. I think he may have been the template for Federbears. ;-) I think the lower part of Roger's face has some Lynette in it, but from the nose up, (including that, uh hem, 'strong' nose.), it is all Robbie. One of those cases where, as a neighbor said after peering at my new born brother, "His father couldn't deny him if he would." lol.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/05/2010 at 02:39 PM

oh Ruth: if your friends thought he was handsome then they should see him smile! They'd be reaching for their inhalers, or meds or anything else they might need.

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 02:39 PM

MSF: Rafa is too much of a scaredy cat to ride a hog. Wait a minute, does that mean he can't be a part of the Greatest Beast of All Time debate?

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:39 PM

I thought Fed was related to Quentin Tarentino

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 07/05/2010 at 02:39 PM

I think Federer will have a Sampras like return to the Open, that is where he plays his best. For the first time in a long time, the rankings don't lie in the WTA. I used to be embarrass for the WTA when Dina and JJ were World's no 1 with no slams. Now nobody can criticize or compare the WTA to the ATP. Serena may even be a better server than Rafa. This is a good time for the WTA. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1, world's#3, only teen in the top 25, reigning USO finalist and winner of 7WTA titles. Du er den bedste Caro!

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:41 PM

Nadal is even better looking when you see his match in person. He's thinner and taller and gorgeous looking.

Posted by Ruth 07/05/2010 at 02:41 PM

"Your bus may have stalled, but the Williams Nadal High Speed Train was another kind of delight."

It certainly was, AB. But I'll be cranking up the old RAndy bus again next year and every year until he wins Wimby or a sceond Slamsomewhere else -- or retires.

chicklet: Your comment about not noticing RAndy's famous annoying habit reminds me of the first time that I saw Rafa play in person at the US Open (I'll check the year). We were discussing the match -- a very good one -- on the NYT forum some days later, but the conversation was almost all about Rafa's opponent, El Aynoui, whom I and many other posters adore(d) and whom I always made sure to see at the USO. So, one of the posters asked me, "But did you notice how that youngster (Nadal) Younes was playing kept pulling at his pants all the time?" And I had to admit that I had not noticed at all; I was totally focussed on Younes. But, now, it's hard to believe that I could have missed Rafa's "habit"!

Posted by ladyjulia 07/05/2010 at 02:41 PM

Ruth,

I don't think it matters what I think...that was my interpretation of site rules. Maybe the mods can clarify that subject. I am not really trying to take any sides here :-)

I thought it was okay to criticize players but not specifically insult any poster as such.

I also hope it is within the site rules to quarter and barter Roger's various body parts as I have been doing since morning. As of now, they are no takers for the anorexic left arm...but lots of demands for wrists, hips, brain and hair.

Posted by Fangorina 07/05/2010 at 02:41 PM

I thought James Black shaved his head when he had shingles, and decided not to bother with hair after that. I wish he would grow it back though; in my opinion he has the wrong head for the shaved-look...

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 07/05/2010 at 02:45 PM

Would agree that both of the men's and women's final wasn't very good, too much of a gap between the players.

Posted by ladyjulia 07/05/2010 at 02:45 PM

CPM,

LOL! That simple? Slip him a note, will you?

It will put millions and MILLIONS of Fed KADs ( with apologies to Mr.X for copyright infringment) out of misery and die in peace.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/05/2010 at 02:52 PM

Anyone have any news on the MRI I believe Federer was getting last week? Thanks

Posted by MH 07/05/2010 at 02:53 PM

Nadal is an excellent player. but in terms of all round tennis brilliance Fed is the best that ever lived regardless of the number of slams.

Posted by Tari 07/05/2010 at 02:53 PM

I loved Borg's hair - still do. But Roger is the GHOAT, IMO.

Posted by daylily 07/05/2010 at 02:53 PM

ladyjulia and annie, if, as an elder from way back, i might offer a suggestion -- please think of another nick for rafa that doesn't involve bulls.....this has been a topic for discussion since pete gave him the unfortunate nom de jeu JetBoy, closely followed by juan jose's mowgli. no one ever really suggested one that captures rafa's true essence.

we call him many things on vb.....Gorgeous, The Rafa, Our Boy -- you get the idea. a long time ago, i suggested El Conquistador, which sounds strong and devastating but has many unpleasant implications that are quite non-pc. let us know if you come up with anything that doesn't connote a strong but unfortunate animal devoid of much intelligence who gets deliberately provoked to murderous confusion....perhaps we can take a vote between tw and vb?

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 02:54 PM

ladyjulia: no takers for Roger's left arm which would look out of place on any torso, but if you want to enter him into the Greatest Beast of All Time discussion, how about sticking it on a praying mantis?

Pete, belated thank you for this post and the ones on the WTA-side of the house. Your latest on espn will (hopefully?) not ignite the great Asterisk Wars again. Let's call it the Occam's Razor post instead.

Posted by espnalanaldo 07/05/2010 at 02:55 PM

In broad daylight also, is the widening gap of ranking points of Rafa above Roger. Something like close to 4,000 points. If the trend continues, by year's end Rafa may have as much as 6,000 points ahead of Roger. I believe, at the height of Roger's ranking in 2004 or 2005 the year end gap of Roger over Rafa was like close to 4,000 points also.


Since Rafa has virtually no points to defend he may yet end up with the most year-end rankings points ever. And when Roger goes on a tailspin, it will not be shocking to see him end up #6 or lower by the end of the year.

Wow, tennis is such a wonderful sport nowadays. Too much excitement and exciting things going on.

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 02:57 PM

Yes, but will Rafa be able to defend all his points for next year? He'll have to win Wimbledon, French Open and all the clay courts...and whatever else he wins the rest of this year. That will be a tall order to fill - and Fed will have hardly any points to defend next year - a role reversal for Fed and Nadal.

Posted by Carrie 07/05/2010 at 02:57 PM

ladyjulia- I do feel calling posters out by name- telling them that they need to get a life and get over themselves and have deficient personalities is treading the ground of insulting a poster. He Who Shall Not Be Named has done that. Perhaps you don't feel that is personally insulting a poster but some of the posters who have been told such things may feel otherwise.

Posted by Tari 07/05/2010 at 02:57 PM

Oh. Delightful. =)

Posted by partypooper 07/05/2010 at 03:00 PM

Rafael Nadal is a great athlete. I watch tennis because of him. I love the grunting sounds he makes. He is incredibly sexy, great eye candy for the ladies.

Posted by Carrie 07/05/2010 at 03:00 PM

* And when Roger goes on a tailspin, it will not be shocking to see him end up #6 or lower by the end of the year.
*

I am not ready to predict this happening. He can make up points during the summer and fall with just the big tournies.

I seem to recall predictions that Rafa would end the year outside of the top ten- so I am not yet ready to start posting gloom and doom for Roger.

Posted by emperornoclothes 07/05/2010 at 03:00 PM

What's in broad daylight is that Nadal is a drug user. Sorry to break it to you, but in ten years your man Nadal will almost certainly be remembered as the player who brought his sport to its knees through the abuse of performance enhancing drugs. I come to tennis from the outside, but have followed many sports over the years. I've seen the same thing play out again and again in swimming, sprinting, cycling, baseball, you name it. It comes in a variety of forms, but Nadal exhibits them all. First, he has suspicious "injuries" which don't behave like ordinary injuries are known to behave (e.g. the troika of 1. a serious repetitive stress injury to the knees, 2. an injury the trainer could do something about in the few minutes before Petzschner's serve, and 3. an injury that didn't inhibit the explosive movement against Soderling and Murray, are mutually exclusive.) These injuries necessitate secretive "special treatments" and absences which don't affect his extracurricular activities as one would expect rehab to do. Second, he complains repeatedly about drug tests. Third, his "measurables" (weight, physique, ground-stroke speed, etc.) fluctuate wildly. Fourth, his results themselves come in manic cycles with long down-periods in between. Fifth, he has shown a willingness to break or stretch other rules (he ignores time calls before and during matches, is a serial breaker of time rules during service games, uses timeouts for strategic rather than medical reasons, and receives coaching illegally). This is all circumstantial evidence, and he is innocent until proven guilty in a legal sense, but not in the court of public opinion. Sometimes circumstantial cases are overwhelming, and this one is.

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 03:01 PM

Carrie: maybe we should have MTOs on this board, because some of the posts I just attribute to people forgetting to take their meds.

Posted by Grant 07/05/2010 at 03:01 PM

"There have already been two major league baseball players this year who have injured themselves while navigating the bases after hitting home runs.

And some professional soccer/futbol player broke his leg last year or the year before doing some celebratory flip."

Best celebration injury ever may have been kicker Bill Gramatica tearing his ACL celebrating a successful 42-yard field goal.

Posted by Ruth 07/05/2010 at 03:02 PM

"I hope James Blake can get through a few rounds of the US Open. How old is he?"

tennisanyone: I just hope Blake (30 years old)is still in the July Atlanta tourney when I attend on the Thursday and Friday of the event (one day with Diane). The last time I saw him up close was during that infamous "Look at heem!" match with Hewitt in Louis Armstrong Stadium at the USO. Soon after that, he was too popular for the "lesser" stadiums etc, and he was almost always scheduled in Ashe where, except in rare cases, I was usually in the nosebleed seats with my binoculars! :)

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/05/2010 at 03:02 PM

Just off topic for a sec (apologies) Brazil have sacked Carlos Dunga and his staff.

Posted by Grant 07/05/2010 at 03:02 PM

"Sorry to break it to you"

Oh I bet you are.

Posted by ladyjulia 07/05/2010 at 03:03 PM

daylily,

"Our boy" is something the media won't use, you know! Same for "gorgeous" since that is quite subjective.

I think I would also like a non-animal one for Rafa...

AB,

LOL! Didn't know praying mantis got classified as "beast"...but yeah...praying mantis sort of suits at the moment...especially as he gets stomped on by Soderling, Berdych and who ever else has a 0-7 or worse record against him.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/05/2010 at 03:04 PM

daylily: hi! so nice to see you over here. In fact someone was saying how much they missed you just a few days ago..Were you at IW in march by any chance? I met a few VBers out there. Very nice folks, all of them.

Ok, as far as the nick goes, i'll stay away from the bull. or the matador. I have my own nick for him which is all wrong on a larger scale. I call him Mr. Cookiepants. and it's a long story that I won't bore you with. but he does love cookies and wears wacky shorts.

Posted by Carrie 07/05/2010 at 03:04 PM

AB- perhaps. I have just started a new strategy in the past month of just leaving when things get nutters. Like perhaps now. ;)

Posted by thebigapple 07/05/2010 at 03:05 PM

Give me the spindly arm.

There is more tennis in that sorry stick than I have in my entire body.

I will be famous in my neighbourhood. The three-armed bandit.

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 03:05 PM

The "Mallorcan Marvel" is my name for him.

Posted by thebigapple 07/05/2010 at 03:07 PM

Cookiepants? Everytime he pull at his pants..he get a new cookie out?

Posted by ladyjulia 07/05/2010 at 03:07 PM

Carrie,

Didn't know that...the mods haven't been doing their job then i guess.

But as AB mentioned before, i guess the mods can't read every post...i guess a few slip ups happen.

Posted by tennisanyone 07/05/2010 at 03:07 PM

Mr. Cookiepants? I'd call him Mr. Digger.

Posted by Tari 07/05/2010 at 03:08 PM

Oh, please stop it, emperor. Please.

Posted by ladyjulia 07/05/2010 at 03:09 PM

I am sure we can come up with better names for Rafa...something that personifies his tennis...if we try.

Posted by tunafish 07/05/2010 at 03:10 PM

I have come to think Nadal is not bad looking. I used to think that he looked like the caveman from the Geico commercials. I think he makes these ugly faces on the court, with the crooked smile and the expression he uses before he serves is down right frightening. Maybe his opponents get scared of him. But off the court, he transforms into a rather nice looking human being.

Posted by thebigapple 07/05/2010 at 03:11 PM

Dunga should be arrested.

For bringing the futebol into disrepute.

Sentence: Living with Maradona for a month.

Posted by tunafish 07/05/2010 at 03:12 PM

we can name him "The Talented Mr. Rafa"

Posted by ChannelSlam 07/05/2010 at 03:12 PM

If he repeats the FO/Wimbledon next year I will call him the Channel Slammer (I know it's a big if but a fan can dream, no?)

Posted by Grant 07/05/2010 at 03:13 PM

Names I have called Rafa:

The OCD Kid

The Great Wall of Topspin

The Vamosing Inevitability

The Claycier

and now... Mr Cookiepants

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/05/2010 at 03:13 PM

I saw Rafa at Wimbie in 2006 and I can confirm he does look taller, thinner and IS absolutely gorgeous.

Posted by thebigapple 07/05/2010 at 03:14 PM

Channel Digger?

Posted by chicklet 07/05/2010 at 03:14 PM

Daylily - A world of no to "Our Boy" as a nickname. The names over at vb give me the creeps.

Can't Rafa have a nickname that acknowledges that fact that he's a grown man. He's 24, and the "innocent child" shtick can be just as grating as the "mindless animal" comparisons.

Posted by bigtrain 07/05/2010 at 03:17 PM

we can name him "The Talented Mr. Rafa"

You mean like "The Talented Mr. Bixby", LOL!

Posted by ChannelSlam 07/05/2010 at 03:18 PM

"Sentence: Living with Maradona for a month"

I think just about any lawyer can get that sentence overturned for being 'Cruel and Unusual Punishment'

Posted by Grant 07/05/2010 at 03:21 PM

"Can't Rafa have a nickname that acknowledges that fact that he's a grown man. He's 24, and the "innocent child" shtick can be just as grating as the "mindless animal" comparisons."

yes, 'fully-grown human male' has a real ring to it

Posted by chicklet 07/05/2010 at 03:23 PM

Grant - Heh. FGHM for short. Catchy :)

Posted by Ruth 07/05/2010 at 03:23 PM

Carrie: Thank you for your 2:57. Exactly what I was thinking.

Well, I've been having fun here for the past 3 hours off and on, posting almost as many comments as Serena has Slams! LOL Now, I must go and write that 5-page thingamagig that I've been putting off and putting off and putting off writing all day. See you later!

Posted by thebigapple 07/05/2010 at 03:25 PM

I did not see Rafa engage in big full frontal digging before the match. Whatever Byrdman saw in that encounter; it unnerved him for the entire match. No wonder he could not find his game.

Posted by AB 07/05/2010 at 03:25 PM

Rafa is champing at the bite, but it doesn't mean he's Champion of the Bite - or does it?

Posted by TeamNadal 07/05/2010 at 03:26 PM

emperornoclothes, regarding your post @ 3:00 p.m.

http://i45.tinypic.com/1q2urc.jpg

Posted by daylily 07/05/2010 at 03:26 PM

chicklet, you mistook me. wasn't suggesting that as a nick. just one of our pet names is all. like, our guy or our man or whatever. perhaps you can figure out something from the fact that in mallorquin nadal mean christmas. of course, there's always, San Rafael.....

Posted by thebigapple 07/05/2010 at 03:27 PM

I rather like FGHM. Do we have consensus?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/05/2010 at 03:28 PM

The talented mr.ripley was a murderous whacko!

chicklet: you are absolutely correct about the fact that rafa is a man but he has alot of boyish qualities (sommersault anyone?) which are sometimes hard to ignore. I think the press has referred to him as the King of Clay all these years. don't know if they're going to change now. Borg didn't have a nickname. None of the players in that generation did. oh wait. Jimbo. that's the only one i can think of.

Posted by tunafish 07/05/2010 at 03:30 PM

Borg was nicknamed "Ice Borg"

Posted by TeamNadal 07/05/2010 at 03:30 PM

I like "The Rafanator"

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/05/2010 at 03:30 PM

tba: no, rafa was behind the bird. he didn't see anything. teamnadal posted a vid upthread. it's at the end.

Posted by tunafish 07/05/2010 at 03:30 PM

McEnroe was nicknamed "The Brat"...they had nicknames back then too.

Posted by daylily 07/05/2010 at 03:31 PM

why, teamnadal?

Posted by espnalanaldo 07/05/2010 at 03:31 PM

In broad daylight also, is the widening gap of ranking points of Rafa above Roger. Something like close to 4,000 points. If the trend continues, by year's end Rafa may have as much as 6,000 points ahead of Roger. I believe, at the height of Roger's ranking in 2004 or 2005 the year end gap of Roger over Rafa was like close to 4,000 points also.


Since Rafa has virtually no points to defend he may yet end up with the most year-end rankings points ever. And when Roger goes on a tailspin, it will not be shocking to see him end up #6 or lower by the end of the year.

Wow, tennis is such a wonderful sport nowadays. Too much excitement and exciting things going on.

Posted by espnalanaldo 07/05/2010 at 03:32 PM

Oops. sorry for the double post.

Posted by thebigapple 07/05/2010 at 03:33 PM

Maybe the Byrdman heard the rustling behind him?

Sorry, I really will have get Fed's arm in the mail before I voluntarily click on a video to see a man rustle into the front of his shorts.

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