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Beyond Words 11/28/2010 - 12:17 PM

Am 

by Hannah Wilks, TW Contributing Writer

The biggest challenge in writing about Rafael Nadal (apart from not letting my bitterness as an Andy Murray fan overwhelm me) is finding something new to say. It’s not just that his undeniable brilliance has already been heavily chronicled, as much as the fact that it’s very hard to avoid a certain mythologised persona, irresistible because it participates in the reality of the man. It’s difficult to see beyond the stereotype. It’s hard even to avoid certain words—raw, brutality, power. Before you know it, you’re using bodice-ripper phrases like powerful thighs and gleaming muscles and then there’s officially no help for you.

There’s one word that hovers in the air around Andy Murray. Slam. More than any other player I can think of, he’s defined by the lack of one. It’s the reason that he can’t really win today, or at this tournament for that matter. If he beats Nadal, he’ll only get asked why he can’t do it when it really matters, at Wimbledon this summer with the prospect of a Federer-less final waiting. If he doesn‘t, he’ll be a loser. It may seem logically impossible that someone with nothing to gain can have so much to lose. Welcome to the world of the British No. 1.

From the first point of the match when Nadal blasts an inside-out forehand winner, only for Murray to respond with his own forehand and an ace to hold serve, there’s a sense that this might be the one we’ve been waiting for, an epic contest to set the World Tour Finals alight at last. The arena has been filled every day by people hoping to see the promise of the event realized; the best in the world playing their best tennis against each other. Nadal has looked sharper with each match, shaking off whatever nominal rust was accumulated by skipping Paris. Murray has been at his best and his worst this week, but today he is playing, to paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw, like himself at his most fabulous; aggressive, striking out on his forehand with supreme confidence, thumping down ace after heavy ace. Using his groundstrokes like a crowbar to pry open the cracks in Nadal’s supreme defense, he works his way to the net to drop soft volleys into unreachable places on the court. It’s the game that the fans and media beg him to play on a more or less daily basis; intelligent, courageous, a sight to see.

Such an equal match-up has the effect of making me see Nadal in a different way after all. As commenters wiser and wittier than me have pointed out, when you tend to be rooting for Nadal’s opponents, it’s difficult not to view him as a larger-than-life automaton possessed of a preternatural ability to slough off multiple death blows and come back stronger, like the killer in a slasher movie. Not so tonight. When there is a kerfuffle at 4-5 with challenges and scoreboards, it displeases both the crowd and Nadal, at one in wanting things to be just so. A noise in the ceiling between first and second serves brings a double fault. With Murray seemingly intent on hitting winners past him at every opportunity, one is forced to accept Nadal as vulnerable, fallible. His concentration can be threatened, his invincible self-belief disrupted.

This only makes what he does in the tiebreak more remarkable. Murray fluffs a forehand down the line that would have given him the mini-break, then nets a defensive slice he should be able to make in his sleep. Once he gets to set point, Nadal is always in control of the rally; a backhand cross-court, a short ball down the line that leaves Murray floundering in no man’s land, and a volley that the world no. 1 is not about to miss. Game and set because one young man kept his head better than another. I think I preferred him as an invincible force of nature who was simply too good.

The spotlight now falls on Murray’s resilience and self-belief, or lack thereof. Surely, Nadal will steamroll from here, as he did to Berdych yesterday; capitalizing on the momentary floundering that comes from losing the tightest of tiebreaks. Once he gets the bit between his teeth, he’s unstoppable. When a net cord takes Murray’s ball wide, followed by a successful Hawkeye challenge from Nadal to get the point replayed, it’s impossible not to feel that events are conspiring against Murray. He plays his first tactically ill-advised drop-shot; he’s driven to his knees by Nadal’s forehand in the next game as the DJ, displaying a masterly sense of timing, plays ‘Sledgehammer’. It’s understandable; after the loss of the first set, I want to take to my bed in a darkened room for a week or so, and I‘m just watching.

But I’m not Andy Murray. Break point down, he hits a backhand cross-court winner and gives it a “c’mon”! At deuce, he opens up the court again as only he can and finishes it off with a drop-dead volley. Game point is his eleventh ace. He gets to 0-15 on Rafa’s serve at 3-3 when Rafa pushes an attacking forehand long. If a point on Rafa’s serve in the first set was an opportunity, right now it’s an offer Murray can’t refuse. A superb backhand winner gives him the break, his fifteenth ace consolidates. I cry aloud; we all do. A return winner gives him the set on Rafa’s serve and the match we‘ve been waiting for is going the distance.

There’s a moment, when Murray has 0-30 on Rafa’s serve at 0-1, when neither are playing as well as they have been. Both have an opportunity to seize the match. Two unforced errors, a drop-shot that bounces before it reaches the net, and that‘s it. You can’t give Rafael Nadal an opening and gamble that he won’t come up with something spectacular, because he will. He breaks with a return ace.

The point at deuce on Murray’s serve at 3-5 is the match in microcosm. A sequence of unbelievable shots and yet all it accomplishes is to highlight Nadal’s brilliance and tenacity. Little kids are already running down the stairs to wait courtside for the chance to get Nadal’s autograph, and I am mentally composing a biting epitaph for the match. Murray has won six more points, but all he’s done is give Nadal a nice work-out, buffing up those muscles until they shine with sweat, making sure he looks good for the final. Nadal will not let an advantage like serving for the match go.

He doesn’t. Murray takes it back, forcing errors and sealing it with an inexorable backhand down the line. The roar from the crowd when he takes it to a tiebreak shakes the stands, but it pales in comparison to the one when Murray goes 0-3 up with an ace and two gorgeous winners. This could really happen, I think. These are the matches that can leave careers forever changed.

Before you know it, Nadal’s beaming and raising his arms, telling us once again how many Slams Murray’s going to win. I don’t think I can be the only Murray fan who is tired of hearing those words from him under these circumstances.

Murray takes it like a man. His press conference is dignified, honest; he doesn’t shrink from the harsh realities. "It was a great match to finish the year. But I need to improve because I’m competing with the two best players of all time. So if I want to win these tournaments, I want to win the Grand Slams, I need to get better."

I’m back to my semantic conundrum. The word I keep finding to describe Nadal’s performance is ‘terrifying’. On his supposedly worst surface, against an opponent who’s capable of beating him playing at his absolute best, he still won. The narrowness of the margins merely emphasize his victory. If his opponent tomorrow and the rest of the ATP aren’t viewing 2011 with a serious dose of apprehension then they’re simply not paying attention.

As for Murray, he played about as well as he can play. He stretched Nadal to his limits and brought the tournament to life. He played one of the best matches of the year. He gave the 17,500 people inside the O2, as Mark Petchey tells us in Nadal’s post-match interview, a memory that they will never forget.

Great. What trophy does he get for that?


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Posted by Nam1 11/28/2010 at 03:07 PM

"But we can agree to disagree"

I can do that. No worries.

AB, thx for the quick description. I too thought Rafa was giving up some balls that he normally would have gone for.

Still, no complaints, after last year's debacle, I am in heaven at all Rafa's done this year. And Roger is clearly going to keep it competitive next year, Rafa better watch it!!

All to the good tho' ,I could not bear another loonng period of boredom when a Number 1 dominates like Fed did for countless years.

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 03:07 PM

this whole rafa can't handle pressure thing is preposterous - forget what he says, just see how well he performs. ladyjulia i can't understand your endless fascination with this argument about he can't handle pressure. it's so blatantly false.

and any time a #2 defeats a #1 it's an upset? lol, for every dollar i wish i had when fed fans pounced on rafa for claiming fed was the favourite, then i'd be bill gates.

so out of here. fed rocks, i love him for playing well and i love his rivalry with rn.

thanks christopher and pspace for being awesomely classy as always. lol i had to scroll the entire page to make sure i wasn't missing out anyone, and what do you know, i wasn't.

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 03:07 PM

Tim: Wertheim tweeted the same thing re Nole in the USO final. Don't recall the same outrage then.

Posted by Federax 11/28/2010 at 03:08 PM

Concluding sentence from AP news release:

With Nadal tired after a tough three-set win on Saturday, Federer easily won the deciding set.

Posted by RW 11/28/2010 at 03:10 PM

Wow, great match for Fed. He gave Nadal a bit of his own medicine with the hammering of the backhand with the wide serve on a court that amplifies the effect.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:10 PM

Gee I had troulbe getting onto this site

Congrats to Roger and to his fans

He has played well all tournament and was the one to beat in my eyes

Well done Roger!! and a great speech from you as well.

Well as a Rafa fan I am still happy with his amazing year and he made the final this year a much better season ending performance from him considering last year.

Roger was too good on the day and he deserved his win.

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 03:10 PM

tim and federax, then why don't you harangue neil harman and the assosciated press for their blatant obvious rafa flove, and stop inundating this board.

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 03:10 PM

Ladyjulia
Wow! I think you're going overboard here.
How do you know Nadal was being unprofessional?
There is no way to know why he may have looked as if he wasn't trying.
For all we know he was but he just didn't have it in him today and what we saw was frustration rather than disdain?
I think you try to read too much into the players words, demeanor and attitude.
Go on and celebrate Fed's great win but in my humble opinion there is no need to bring down the opponent even if in your eyes he didn't try because you can't be certain he didn't.

Posted by Nam1 11/28/2010 at 03:14 PM

"tim and federax, then why don't you harangue neil harman and the assosciated press for their blatant obvious rafa flove, and stop inundating this board."

Mela LOL!!

Get ready to be called a humourless, mama lion!!

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 03:14 PM

Roger loves to play and compete. He is a superb defender and today he ran down many balls and put them back in play, making Rafa go for that extra shot. His ball-striking throughout the tournament was excellent.

I can't appreciate him in a vacuum so I appreciate players who can challenge him successfully once in a while to make matches and tournament outcomes interesting.

Rafa's excellence does not take anything away from Roger's excellence.

I don't understand why there is never enough affirmation, never enough superlatives, never enough praise for RogerKADs.

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 03:14 PM

so wait...either rafa collapsed coz fed was too good, or he did coz he was unprofessional?

enlighten me.

Posted by Blue moon 11/28/2010 at 03:15 PM

I don't think Nadal was not trying. Not on 110% top form, but certainly trying. After 5-1, Roger was so clearly pumped up; he was moving even faster than usual and served huge serves (I think one second serve, but that was a big one too). After all, how often does Roger get to breadstick Nadal? (More often than you'd think, but still.)


Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 03:16 PM

*I think you try to read too much into the players words, demeanor and attitude.
Go on and celebrate Fed's great win but in my humble opinion there is no need to bring down the opponent even if in your eyes he didn't try because you can't be certain he didn't.*

I agree.

Ladyjulia- you seem rather quick today imo to want to rag on Rafa. First he is not a good sport- pulled from quotes without context from a presser that you admitted later that you did not even read before dinging his character. Then he should maybe be fined?


Why not just be positive for your guy?

I know we all want this port to be as professional and the best it can be. But sometimes here- it is just like folks look to be negative.

I think Rafa tried and cared. Full stop.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 03:18 PM

mela dont bite me, mama lion! i dont think one post is haranguing the board LOL!

Fred, well done, quite possibly the best week of tennis ever...mowed down Murray, Djoker, Sod AND rafa, wow!

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 03:18 PM

*off to watch rafa's bagel of rg 2008 and 6-2 final AO2009 set.

oh wait was this coz roger was unprofessional? hand in your tennis player badge you disgrace!

ugh x infinity.

i can't stand the vamos brigade boards coz they're so anti-fed, and i can't stand this board for it's occasional harridan voices that crowd out all else.

and i love pete and gauloise and steve posts and so many posters here. have no idea what to do - thought i'd find some place of comfort and class to turn to here on rafa's loss. no such luck.

we need some sort of rally for sanity like jon stewart's. jon wertheim was so right that fedal rivalries are like us politics. bitter taste in mouth.

Posted by Servus 11/28/2010 at 03:18 PM

Congratulations to Federer and his fans. No old man jokes anymore, I guess..

Rafa also played a good tournament and he should be proud of his performance, especially compared to last year. Indoor HC is probably his worst surface, but I still believe he should be able to win WTF one day.

Let's hope that next season is going to be as exciting as this one. So many twists and turns, simply incredible...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:19 PM

Carrie,

I think in 2005...it was a huge upset, wasn't it? Rafa defeating the world #1 was huge. It was huge in Wimby also.

I think it was huge everytime Rafa defeated Roger, because Roger was #1 and was expected to win.

Roger even once made a comment in a presser about why the Rafa-Roger rivarly is a great story...if i remember right he said "I know why its a good story, its because i am #1 and i keep losing to the player who is #2".

Now,the tables are reversed a bit.

Roger is no longer at his peak,no longer at the biological age when players can dominate by a wide margin yearlong, no longer actually dominates the tour, no longer wins 3 GS a year and is no longer #1.

Now Rafa is at his peak, at the biological age for peaking ( most likely age), dominates the tour by being 4000 points ahead of them, wins 3 GS a year and is #1.

Anytime Rafa loses, dosen't matter who does it..its going to be an upset. In GS, even more. Dosen't matter who does it.

For Roger, its obviously huge because his nemesis was so ahead in the H2H..that's why Rafa was the nemesis, its because 7-14. Any win is really sweet for Roger now because he is taking down the world #1, when he is at the third stage of his career.

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 03:19 PM

Ladyjulia: Wow - Rafa should be fined for lack of effort? Why would he make it so publicly clear how much he wanted the WTF, and fight out of lots of sticky matches this week to just put in an appearance in the final?

Anyway, surely Fed's win means less to you if you think Rafa tanked to that extent?

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/28/2010 at 03:20 PM

Excellent match from Roger, except for the brain-fart in set 2 ! Had he continued his level of play in the second set, this match would have been a straight sets rout. Unfortunately, the oh-so-familiar second set letdown happened yet again - only he can know what causes it and what goes through his mind. But that was a disappointing set of passive tennis from him, after a scintillating performance in the previous one.

Of course, once he righted the ship and started moving inside the baseline again, he was able to wrap up the third without much ado. I don't think Nadal played at his absolute best, but I think Roger's zinger backhands took him by surprise. After all, it's a game plan that has always worked. It didn't today because of the low bounce of the court and the fact that Roger's backhand was on fire and he was hitting it with so much pace and so much confidence.

This doesn't hurt Nadal's confidence any, but it has got to help Roger's ! In this tournament he displayed the kind of form we have not seen from him in 3+ years. If he couldn't beat Nadal on a hardcourt indoor surface with this form, then don't know when he ever could. 7 out of 8 wins for Nadal in the last couple years, but they all came against a Federer who was far from his peak. This match was different, with Roger back to playing close to the form that made him TMF. And that's an encouraging sign for this Federer fan, who had all but given up hope. Thank you, Roger, for not giving up on your dreams !

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/28/2010 at 03:20 PM

Excellent match from Roger, except for the brain-fart in set 2 ! Had he continued his level of play in the second set, this match would have been a straight sets rout. Unfortunately, the oh-so-familiar second set letdown happened yet again - only he can know what causes it and what goes through his mind. But that was a disappointing set of passive tennis from him, after a scintillating performance in the previous one.

Of course, once he righted the ship and started moving inside the baseline again, he was able to wrap up the third without much ado. I don't think Nadal played at his absolute best, but I think Roger's zinger backhands took him by surprise. After all, it's a game plan that has always worked. It didn't today because of the low bounce of the court and the fact that Roger's backhand was on fire and he was hitting it with so much pace and so much confidence.

This doesn't hurt Nadal's confidence any, but it has got to help Roger's ! In this tournament he displayed the kind of form we have not seen from him in 3+ years. If he couldn't beat Nadal on a hardcourt indoor surface with this form, then don't know when he ever could. 7 out of 8 wins for Nadal in the last couple years, but they all came against a Federer who was far from his peak. This match was different, with Roger back to playing close to the form that made him TMF. And that's an encouraging sign for this Federer fan, who had all but given up hope. Thank you, Roger, for not giving up on your dreams !

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 03:20 PM

Tim, one post? are you serious? i wish to infinity you didn't post more than one.

and i'm not a mama lion :).

a papa cub ;).

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:21 PM

Oh My

Same old,same old I see

Pity.

As a Rafa fan I can say 100% he always trys and gives his best

Roger was just too good on the day.

Anyway I have said my post and not staying around here any longer

Have a good day everyone

Peace lol!

ps.Tim try to behave no? and by the way Roger played great.

Posted by Grant 11/28/2010 at 03:21 PM

"I don't understand why there is never enough affirmation, never enough superlatives, never enough praise for RogerKADs."

the way our hive mind works leaves us helpless praise addicts, of course

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/28/2010 at 03:22 PM

Took a while to save my post, and I now see that it double-posted. Ugh !

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 03:23 PM

*For Roger, its obviously huge because his nemesis was so ahead in the H2H..that's why Rafa was the nemesis, its because 7-1Any win is really sweet for Roger now because he is taking down the world #1, when he is at the third stage of his career.*

I do agree with that.

And while I think the loss for Rafa may not have been the best for him- I think the Roger win was a shot in the arm for the rivalry. And the rivalry was a shot in the arm for tennis. So to have it be more of a rivalry and not a one way street is a good thing- just next time they meet....I want Rafa to win. :)

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:24 PM

xfan,

I didn't say he was...i am going by what Nam1 was saying she was sure she saw. I said I prefer GB's version. Its not right if Nam1 is correct...so that's why i said GB is more likely to be correct.

So, I did not go overboard. I just thought GB made more sense than Nam1;s version..because if Nam1 is correct, its against the rules.

Once again, I said I prefer GB's version...it sounds more logical to me.

I am off folks...see u later tonight.

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 03:24 PM

i know grant is joking, but it's oh so true.

for all of us.

and great post, crazy-for-rog.

and gb, don't even bother.

Posted by Grant 11/28/2010 at 03:24 PM

"and i can't stand this board for it's occasional harridan voices that crowd out all else."

Well put. Don't really know how to help you there (as in "welcome to the internet. If you're sensitive, leave"), but well put. I'd suggest learning to love mocking the harridans.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/28/2010 at 03:24 PM

Well, the Dream Final ended the way many had hoped. I'm only disappointed for our Annie, steadfast Nadal fan that she is.

Samantha: were we listening to the same P-Mac? His salivating over Federer hasn't stopped at all!

I had the strange experience of watching this match on TV at a brunch in an evenly-split room. Which isn't so strange at all, except I was also popping on TW from time to time - and discovered there was one guest who knew me from lurking on here! According to this guy Vikram, Djokovic will quit playing before Federer does. Well, Vikram, if you're lurking later, we shall see. I doubt the guy will quit playing at age 25.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 03:25 PM

by the way the head to head in Masters FInale's now is 3-0 for Fred .. :)

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/28/2010 at 03:26 PM

I'd love to know if that last forehand that won the match was in or out. Looked out to me, but not sure.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 03:26 PM

Carrie - oh, I am genuinely sorry to hear that, if in fact, DelPo's injury is career threatening. That would be a loss, not just for his fans, but for the sport.

Nam1 - yeah, but Rafa has beaten Roger on both hard court, '09 AO, grass, 08 Wimby, and you could even toss in Madrid, '10, which is sort of fast clay. So, I think for awhile at least, he will be expected to beat Roger on any surface. Until and if he doesn't. Then the perception of top and underdog may change.

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 03:27 PM

Plus ladyjulia, I actually think Rafa looked sad at the awards ceremony.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:27 PM

oh dear...GB..I said you were more likely to be correct that Rafa did put an effort and did care. Why are you jumping on me now????

I was just responding to Nam1's assertion that if she was right, its against the rules and i do no think that she is right, but you are.

I am really off folks...i don't want to get into a war. I am very critical of both players and its probably not best for me to say anything. GB...you want to discuss Fed's gambling issue and ATP treating him with kid gloves and ruining the sport totally..I am game for it.

Otherwise, see u later.

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/28/2010 at 03:28 PM

well congrats to roger, no commies for rafa, when he understands that loosing your serve is suicide on this surface where he's concerned, this against any opponents and even worse against federer and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, i'll feel sorry for him!

but still he played well, i guess, they both played well , their matches always seem so fluid, so clean even with errors here and there, all it took was one or two lousy points and pouf it was over,urrghh!

oh well there's always next year, yes? and i can try and view this through a half full glass, he won his robin matches with gusto! beat murray on a surface where he usually sucks against him and took a set off fed for the first time ever at the wtf tourney in three matches, this can only mean that he's getting better on his "worst" surface and against the better player today and this week, back to the school bench for rafa, mucho mucho to tinker still, fortunately we have time on our side,right, uh-huh!! toni i hope u were taking notes, and hit him on his fingers if he doesnt listen!! sighhh
i'm disappointed naturally ,it would have been sweet to have the cherry on the icing too this season! what a great year it was! looking forward to AO and see if he can reconquer that title that was also lost last yr in 09!
till then aurevoir et à bientôt, everyone on tennis.com, i might check in to see if nole can bring glory to his country! but if i forget adje nole in advance!
ps:does anyone know what the H2H is in best of 3 sets rafa vs fed? i just don't ever feel as relax in that format for rafa he's sometimes oh so slow to get into rhythmn...he seemed to be walking more and hopping less at the beginning but afterwards ...oh well ...its done! well done!

oh congrats to fed fans, ur player did well, tim i'm sure is over the moonpie!

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 03:28 PM

Hi Grant:

There's a difference (in my mind anyway) between the fans and the KADs.

KADs fight imaginary battles.

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 03:29 PM

Ladyjulia,
Maybe I'm just confused by your negative posts about Nadal but it's no big deal, you're certainly entitled to your opinion (didn't mean to give a lecture before)

Anyway, peace to fans of both players.
They both did great, improved on last year results thereby adding ranking points and winning more money (more money than some of us will see in a lifetime) ;-)

Posted by jackson 11/28/2010 at 03:31 PM

AB at 03:14 PM "Rafa's excellence does not take anything away from Roger's excellence.

I don't understand why there is never enough affirmation, never enough superlatives, never enough praise for RogerKADs."


Well said AB. It makes this board a very frustrating place at times.

Posted by Grant 11/28/2010 at 03:31 PM

"There's a difference (in my mind anyway) between the fans and the KADs.

KADs fight imaginary battles."

That's fair, but I still consider KADs of all stripes to be a pretty diverse lot, even if they share the trait of being highly annoying

Posted by jodiecate 11/28/2010 at 03:32 PM

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Roger!! What an AMAZING tournament he's had!
So lovely to see him all poetry in motion again!
It must be a huge thrill for him to have obviously put in so much work and to come out on top against Rafa. 14/8 already sounds like a WAY better ratio somehow... and the possibility of it diminishing further must seem a lot more likely.

ENORMOUS CONGRATULATIONS to Rafa!! What an AMAZING season he's had!
Just perfect to see him do so well on his least favourite surface.
In a way i'm really glad he didn't get "everything" this year - i think it's good for him not to get things too easily, to have something to still work towards.

WELL DONE BOYS!! What an amazing week!

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:32 PM

Watching it the 2nd time around, is immensely relaxing. One gets to tend to cooking while Rafa gets ready to serve...no offense.

Now that I have somewhat ruined a sunny chilly day spending it with near and dear ones...in boston...to do things one should be doing outdoors...no regrets.
It's going to be crazy at work given it's Monday after post holidays. One takes whatever to enrich the sports soul.

This addictions has kicked up a notch now.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 03:32 PM

Grant- lol...bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Frankly,Scarlet, I think that both Fed and Rafa fans/KADs are pretty much equal praise junkies. One of the many things shared in common. Same vibe around here after Rafa completed his well earned career GS.

Ooh...DID Roger keep Rafa waiting at the beginning of the match a la Madrid '09? Maybe TC will show that in one of its repeats.

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:33 PM

This 15-0 Rafa server 2-3 is an amazing point.
Relishing it.

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:34 PM

Followed by Rafa in the next point.

Pity the entire match wasn't this cat-and-mouse. Well, who is complaining!

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:35 PM

Watching it the 2nd time around, is immensely relaxing. One gets to tend to cooking while Rafa gets ready to serve...no offense.

Now that I have somewhat ruined a sunny chilly day spending it with near and dear ones...in boston...to do things one should be doing outdoors...no regrets.
It's going to be crazy at work given it's Monday after post holidays. One takes whatever to enrich the sports soul.

This addictions has kicked up a notch now.

Posted by Nam1 11/28/2010 at 03:35 PM

oh dear, did I start something between Ladyjulia and GB?

I want to clarify my post in the interest of peace.

I did not watch the last set after Fed was up 3-1 and then I came back to watch the last point. It looked long to me but I did not see Rafa challenge it,hence I asked if he had sort of lost hope after being 3-1 down.

AB answered me that he had not, from his/her perspective.

thats all folks. Make what you will of that.

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 03:35 PM

ladyjulia: if you're still around, I linked to an article I know you would enjoy:

http://tinyurl.com/33nbpke

From years ago but very relevant because it's about the Huggy Bear tournament and the enormous sums that are bet on pros during that tournament.

Gives interesting insight into the Forstmanns, including Ted and also the intersection between tennis and the obscenely wealthy.

Posted by temsu 11/28/2010 at 03:39 PM

nadal was just too tired after yesterday's match against andy and roger was playing at his best... so there it goes.. anyway a great season for rafa.. may it long continue in the coming years..

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 03:39 PM

"its probably not best for me to say anything". No, ladyjulia, I know you're just giving your opinion/not trying to provoke people etc.

Genuine question: do you think Fed didn't try in the FO 08? Not trying to continue the argument, I'm just curious.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:40 PM

xfan,

I didn't say he was...i am going by what Nam1 was saying she was sure she saw. I said I prefer GB's version. Its not right if Nam1 is correct...so that's why i said GB is more likely to be correct.

So, I did not go overboard. I just thought GB made more sense than Nam1;s version..because if Nam1 is correct, its against the rules.

Once again, I said I prefer GB's version...it sounds more logical to me.

I am off folks...see u later tonight.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:40 PM

xfan,

I didn't say he was...i am going by what Nam1 was saying she was sure she saw. I said I prefer GB's version. Its not right if Nam1 is correct...so that's why i said GB is more likely to be correct.

So, I did not go overboard. I just thought GB made more sense than Nam1;s version..because if Nam1 is correct, its against the rules.

Once again, I said I prefer GB's version...it sounds more logical to me.

I am off folks...see u later tonight.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:40 PM

xfan,

I am very negative about my posts about Rafa...there's no doubt about that. But I am quite negative about my posts about Roger too.

I am not fair in my treatment towards both..that i accept..its because I am biased towards Roger more as a fan.

But if i don't have a logical argument and you have an argument that;s more logical, i can change my point of view.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 03:40 PM

5 World Tour Final's now for Fed, didnt really see this coming, what a week!

big smile time, lets face it, any titles at this level from here are a bonus...well done Fred!

Posted by Blue moon 11/28/2010 at 03:40 PM

I think the best of 3 sets H2H is 6-5, favoring Nadal.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:41 PM

Peeping back in

GB May I offer you another Vodak ok?

Let it go its not worth it

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 03:41 PM

mela- I can understand. It is hard to find a place where one can talk about Rafa as a fan, while realizing he has attributes and faults, while also not hating particular players, while also not having to doge the "Rafa is a talentless moonballer horrible person terrible sportsman hack!!!!" mantra. But I imagine that may be the wish for some fans of other player too.


and ladyjulia- I hope I was not too rude in my post to you before. It is just for such a big day for your guy...I was wondering why you were not looking for the positive things about it. :) We can all find things to worry about and imo-look for character flaws and reasons to be negative about an opponent where perhaps there are none for that particular aspect. But sometimes- it can be FUN to just enjoy a win for your dude or dudette.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 03:44 PM

anyone who thinks Nadal didnt try cannnot have been watching him play for all these years, WHEN in his life has he not tried to win, ever?

we've all seen Murray and Djoker collapse a bit under Fed's hot streaks, why would Rafa be any different? you think it isnt a little demoralizing for Rafa too? he's not a machine u know, or totally immune to pressure...

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:45 PM

Carrie I saw you post before the news regarding Del Potro?

Is this true it could be career ending? He has confirmed to play Medibank next year and I am soo looking forward to watching him play live there

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/28/2010 at 03:48 PM

blue moon
thanks not much of a decisive difference if those numbers are correct, then again between these two, its the little things that make the difference they're both great champions! thank you ,now i'm really off see u guys in january!
i debated for a bit whether i should read the thread as i did read this last page after updating this page for first time since before match started, as i see there might have been a bit of dodging bullets going on, but i'm done for the season! and so far so good trying my best to be gracious in defeat ,le sigh...ciao!
well i sure hope real madrid wins the other classico tomorrow in la liga to cheer rafa up, but that's another story as his uncle will probably be rooting for his former team barcelona!yep just another day in sports for spain!!!

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 03:51 PM

AM (waves) and CL-

I did not mean to imply that I have heard anything that means it could be career ending. It is just that since there ANY news- I worry that things are much worse than what may first have been imagined. I would love to be wrong. He is so, so young.

My biggest worry is that he will not be able to hit his forehand the same way. I hope I am wrong. I just have a feeling that- even if not career ending- it may be like the Sharapova shoulder surgery- career never quite realizing the same heights again. I really hope I am wrong. AM if you see him in Medibank please share your insights here. :)

Tim- we disagree a lot but I <3 your 3:44. Thanks for that.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:52 PM

eclipse 22 Bye for now.Remember Rafa had a great year.

Posted by TMFunk 11/28/2010 at 03:52 PM

way to go Fed!!! Congrats to all fellow Fed fans and commies to Rafa fans. Key today imo was Fed's backhand which was superb throughout and his serve which held up in sets 1 and 3. This win was huge for Fed (and my!) mental make-up going into AO 2011. Bring it on!!!

Ladyjulia - Can I say I told you so?? :) And btw, managed to wrangle the home laptop so live streamed the whole match!

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 03:52 PM

Ladyjulia,
It's fine :)
I was obviously being judgmental while telling you not to judge Rafa ;-)


AM,
Did you see 'career ending'? Where did you hear this?
I really hope Del Potro can recover!

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 03:53 PM

From Piers Newbury on twitter:

"In the first set he was unplayable," says Rafa. Tired? "I'm not going to say I lost that match because I was tired."

Rafa: "Thank you very much. See you next year. Merry Christmas." Not many players end their press conferences like that.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:53 PM

triple posts????

AB,

I will read the article..I never did read your point of view about the gambling issue as you weren't around when i discussed it with others (Grant, I remember your stand)...so what's your take on it? Is the ATP right? Wrong? In not pursuing this? Jon W won't touch this issue anymore because he thinks its not right to involve the Fed until more evidence (which is similar to Grant's view as well, and TMFunk, CL and others as well). Greg Couch thinks the ATP is wrong in not pursuing. I lean towards Couch's view because i think its really important to get to the bottom of this issue as soon as possible. The integrity of the sport is at stake. And a legend being involved is never good news, even if its a rumor.

GB,

About 2008 RG, I think Fed had a terrible game plan...but he was roaring in the second set..and that was when he won a game or something(which was frankly hilarious seeing the world #1 behave like that for getting one game). So, i think he tried. I didn't observe anything during the match where it looked like he was tanking..did u? Rafa was ofcourse, playing out of-this-world-type clay court tennis at that time.

AB...I have to go, but i'll be back in a few hrs later to read your response if you haven;t left yet. And I will get back to you on the article as well. Also, wanted to ask if you have the final numbers on the 85% thing. Could it have been used to predict today's outcome?

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/28/2010 at 03:54 PM

yes i'm going lolll
TIM
thank you for your last post which was very gracious in victory of u!
AM see u online down under, when u get to sleep and i'll get to be a zombie for 2 weeks hopefully!

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 03:54 PM

Phew! I just saw Carrie's post so never mind, AM.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:54 PM

Carrie Phew! thanks for that.I think Zengii posted the other day that he was going to play a expo? I could be wrong there.I will ask her again when she comes on later ok.Maybe Gauloises aka Hannah might know something more.I understand your concern when you dont hear much.

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 11/28/2010 at 03:55 PM

Hi, everyone!
Seriously, i dont know why this Federer guy doesnt retire already. I mean, he's so obviously done:)
First, congratulations to le Fed and the millions...AND MILLIONS of Fed fans. Also to Mirka, 'cause she's the boss and looked quite happy about it.
Also, well done to Rafa. He's had a tremendous season, more than i could expect as a fan, and he showed a big improvement in this, his worst surface, specially after last year's disaster. I kinda fee confident this title will come, sooner or later, if he stays injury free.
About the match, i think Rafa had to be absolutely perfect to beat a Federer playing this well, with the weapons he had today. He actually tried to play a match so different from his usual style that i dont think it could be done. He tried to keep it short, serve very well, and wait for an opening. He only found one in the second set, and once Fed broke in the 3rd, everybody could see it was over.
Basically, this match was played on Fed's terms, and he deserved the win, because he was the better man. What a tremendous tournament he's had.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:56 PM

x fan Thats ok lol!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 03:59 PM

Well Mr X has finally got out of Minion Land and granted us with his presence I see?

Agree Roger was just too good on the day and he deserved his win.Always a pleasure to watch for me full stop.

I could not be happier as a Rafa fan he has had a amazing year

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 03:59 PM

ladyjulia: i don't think either Fed or Rafa would tank. I was just trying to get a sense if it was one sided scores/uncharacteristic play that raises the possibility for you. I wouldn't be surprised, since you have really high expectations and always think both guys are gonna win, unless they're playing each other:). thanks

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:59 PM

Ah xfan...its all good..its good to rein me in at times actually..coz i can be VERY persistent (just ask TMFunk)...

I will be back later...got to really go...couldn't read all posts here. Will read them later.

Posted by Kim (Swiss in Brisbane) 11/28/2010 at 04:01 PM

AM
I wish you fun at Cezanne Exbihition!
Now I have to get ready for work.
Again congrats to Rafa for his excellent achievements this year.
And to Roger for nice year end finish.
Good luck to all the players for the next season.
Bye for now. Have a good time!

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 04:02 PM

AM and x-fan...sorry for causing the worry. Lol. I have just been chatting about Delpo with a tennis liking friend of mine (who you all know) and we are a bit worried.

In thinking about Rafa/Fed- I wasn wondering what courts you think favor one or the other and are there any that you think where they are levelish

Here are my thoughts

Clay- natch- Rafa.

Grass- initially Feds- now more even. Perhaps the more even surface now (I think Rafa can play his best tennis on grass)

Indoor hard- Fed

Outdoor fast-med- hard Fed

Outdoor slow hard- Fed but Rafa has a good chance

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 04:04 PM

And by favor - I do not mean to detract one player or the other. I just mean that the respective player may be able to utilize their gifts most on whatever surface.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 04:05 PM

Kim Hi!

Well I did tell you Roger was the player to beat didnt I? lol!

I hope this makes you feel better after you short stay in hospital

Bye for now and take care ok

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 04:06 PM

Hey Mr X! Did you think Rafa lacked his usual intensity?

How ironic that after all the crazy emotional outbursts of this week, that was one of the least emotional performances I've seen from Rafa. Guess there's a reason Tio Toni trained him to keep that stuff in check:)

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 04:07 PM

Oh, and belated thanks for the vodka, AM!

*still wishes Rafa had held from 40-15 up*

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 11/28/2010 at 04:09 PM

*bows to madame president*
I'm still in Minionland, by the way. You are welcome.

I see comments praising Fed's BH. It's true that he did hit some great shots from there today, but i want to make a point about that shot that i think is fair: Fed's BH is a tremendous shot. Spectacular, many times. It's the high BH that gives him so much trouble, but Rafa wasnt able to find that place often enough today to take Fed out of his confort zone (only with the serve, which was basically what kept Rafa in the match so long). Those short balls at middle height are not troubling for Fed, even if they go to the BH side. He does what he did today: open angles, make winners.
Rafa just wasnt good enough today to do what he has do sometimes in the past: find Fed's weak spot many many times. Also, he couldnt return a wide serve to his BH to save his life.
But hey, after the season he's had, i find it very difficult to ask more from the guy. He tried, but it wasnt to be today.
Also, i hope Fed keeps his image of a gentleman and has the dignity of losing to Rafa in the exho they will play in Madrid around Christmas time. He'll win the one in Zurich anyway, so i tthink it's the least he could do:)

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 04:09 PM


here's from our friends at The Sun: ROGER FEDERER proved he is tennis' real number one with victory in the ATP World Tour final.

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/tennis/3249792/Roger-Federer-beats-Rafa-Nadal-to-win-ATP-World-Tour-Final.html#ixzz16c6iPnnZ

LOL!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 04:10 PM

GB No worries

Hmm so do I or well thems the breaks

There will always be many more matches ok

Keep drinking it takes the pain away for a bit lol!

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 04:10 PM

Carrie,
I agree with your choices per surface, in particular grass.
I think Fed is excellent on the green stuff but Rafa can certainly match him. While Rafa's game is generally not my first preference, I enjoy watching Rafa play on grass more than any other surface.
Actually my wish for next year is to see them play at Wimbledon again! :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/28/2010 at 04:13 PM

Mr X I agree with all your points there.

Anyway I look forward to their expos

We Gonna See No?

Posted by mellow yellow 11/28/2010 at 04:13 PM

Congrats Roger!

I don't get the taking talk. Nadal took the 2nd set. Why would he tank in the 3rd? What I saw was Fed remembering what got him the first set and going back to that playbook in the 3rd. Also, his serve came back. It's really quite sad that every time Nadal loses a match it's because he's injured or tired or not 100%. I swear he's the only player on tour that, in the eyes of many fans and the media, never loses a match fair and square. Never is outplayed. It's always because he's T&I. So annoying.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 11/28/2010 at 04:15 PM

hi guys.. hi TWibe...

congrats to fed...

congrats to fed....

well done swiss maestro...

the way it looks out, rafa is heading into a serena territory....

winning, RG, Wimby, USO, losing in the finals of ATP WTF...

and im sure that rafa will win AO 2011 - 100%...

somehow rafa is predictable.. and im liking it...

love the semi FeDal war going on... =)

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 04:15 PM

LOL
Since Roger is the real number 1 then he should be the favorite for every single tournament, no? ;-)

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 04:15 PM

"Anyway I look forward to their expos"

Not me. Indoor hard and Madrid? Meh:)

Posted by TMFunk 11/28/2010 at 04:17 PM

Mr X - I agree. As I was saying yesterday, I favoured Fed in this match to alarge extent because I didn't think Nadal's lefty topspin to his backhand would cause him as much problems as it does on clay. That said, Fed's backhand has broken down in the past even on neutral surfaces, and I think that was part of Nadal's gameplan today. unfortunately for him, it didn't work today.

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 11/28/2010 at 04:17 PM

GB,
I do think Rafa lacked intensity in his legs today. But hey, if Fed is able to defeat the Djoker easily and Rafa needs a war to barely get past Muzz, that's only good for Fed, and if that gave him an edge today, he deserves it.
IMO, Rafa tried his best with what he had. Serve well, and wait for your chance if you find some good returns. Not waste a single extra pound of energy. I think even more than the balls he let go, the biggest proof of this was the last couple of games in Fed's serve in the 2nd set. Since Nadal already had the break, he basically didnt move. I imagine he was trying to do the same thing in the 3rd, and maybe he could have had an opening in the first game, but he couldnt. Also, he couldnt let leads go, and when he was up 40-15 an got broken, it was over.
As i said, he had to be perfect to stand a chance, and he wasnt, so he lost.

Mind you, if today's lack of energy is a result of yesterday's extraordinary match, i'll take it. This year had had plenty of titles already, but it hadnt had that "vintage Rafa" match when he wins a super-rollercoaster. Yesterday was that match.

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 11/28/2010 at 04:20 PM

Tim,
You are gonna have to come up with something better than "The Sun" if you want credibility:)

By the way, did you notice Mr. Federer's moonpies today? I swear i saw a couple, and some even got an error from Rafa. I had to laugh about it.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 04:22 PM

Mr X!!!! There you are! I have missed you and your minion armada! ;-)

I disagree a tiny bit about the Fed BH he brought to the court today. He was helped on that side, of course, because this particular court didn't let Rafa's topspin get up as high on Fed's BH as it often does. But in that CC winner, for instance, where Fed broke in the 1set? That thing was STILL up around his head band and he just went after it. I think it was a combination of will finding a way.

I was very impressed by the serving of both guys under more or less constant pressure. Fed's serve cracked a bit at the beginning of the second, but other than that, both were pretty solid. It was just that Fed finally believed in the virtue of at least TRYING to go after the second serve. He missed about his first 6 attempts, but Rafa-like, ;-), he was dogged in his pursuit in it payed off.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 04:25 PM

BTW - in the interest of cold pot stirring, I hope everyone has noted from the Tennis.com front page that TByrd, who apparently does't quite get the concept of 'secret ballot' has outed himself as voting for Rafa over Fed for the Edberg Award. Still pissed about Wimby is TByrd. I am willing to guess that Triple P and Robin Haas may have cast their voted for Fed. And Muzz is TOTALLY in the Rafa camp. Pretty soon, these guys will have to hire campaign managers and won't THAT be fun. ;-))

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 04:27 PM

Really well said, Mr X! thanks.

Agree 100% about the Muzz match. That was really something. Hearing Rafa say after that he felt "happy" down 0-3 in the breaker and was gonna wait if he had chances for win; and comparing it to his being "mentally destroyed" in the middle of the breaker with Lubey in IW made me feel like crazy fighter Rafa's all the way back.

Posted by TMFunk 11/28/2010 at 04:29 PM

FWIW: I've never understood the defensiveness and angst that accompany comments attributing tiredness to a loss. Why is it such an insult to Fed if Rafa could not play with as much energy as he would have liked because of the match yesterday (and I'm a huge Fed fan btw)? Any tiredness is very much a consequence of Nadal's style of play. There's a reason his match with Muzz went over 3 hours, and it has a lot to do with Rafa's style. So if you like the relentlessness that comes as a result of that style, you got to live with the downside as well. Just like Fed's style of play is a double-edged sword - The beautiful shotmaking and breathtaking winners go hand in hand with mind-boggling shanks. At the end of the day they are who they are because they are able to maximize the rewards from their style and minimize the problems.

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 04:30 PM

LOL CL. A pot stirring journo did ask him. Surprised he answered though. And the poor other nominees - he was like 'well, I had to choose between Fedal, and...'.

I think we can add Sod to the not voting for Rafa list.

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 04:31 PM

Hi Carrie:

I think indoor carpet is the only surface on which Roger has an edge over Rafa.

They are even on outdoor hard and indoor hard, with Rafa holding the edge on medium bounce, Roger the edge with faster bounce.

I think that Rafa has the edge on grass, but only just and I would love to see the 2 of them play @ Wimbledon again. Please tennis g-o-d-s, let us see their grass match again.

And, as for clay, we know who El Rey is, don't we?

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 04:34 PM

Hi Carrie:

Realize I wasn't clear. Meant, that indoor carpet Roger has a *clear* advantage, but the rest of the comparison "edges" are microscopic.

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 11/28/2010 at 04:35 PM

CL,
Hi to you too. As i've said, i cant be around as often as i was before, but i had to come to good ol' TW after a Fedal final, even if my guy lost.
About your point, let's face it, we are all biased in this discussion. I dont remember that particular BH (wonder why?), but Fed still made some UFEs from that side when Rafa was able to make him hit a number of those high ones, IMO.
About the going for the 2nd serve thing, i think it worked better for Fed when he returned with the BH and went to net (as he did at 2-1, 40-15 in the 3rd, yeah, i remember that point), than when he tried to run around and hit the FH. The spin got him a number of times, and i dont remember many effective returns bthat way.
Another big difference is that Rafa is usually able to win a bigger percentage of the long rallies than Fed in their matches, but that wasnt the case today. Fed's movement was superior. Of course, that only indicates he's done and must retire:)

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 04:36 PM

AB, this isnt a carpet they are playing on, its a hard court... carpet is long gone, i believe...

too bad they dont play more indoors, id love to give away some of those red clay matches about now!

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