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Blue Velvet in the O2 11/21/2010 - 7:42 PM

Andy

by Hannah Wilks, TennisWorld Contributing Writer

Two weeks ago, I saw the Paris Meridian, also known as the Rose Line. For many years, it was considered the prime meridian; the line of 0 degrees longtitude which divides the eastern and western hemispheres. But in 1884, a conference of scientists decreed that the Greenwich meridian - which now runs right past the western edge of the 02 Arena - was the Prime Meridian; that London was the alpha and omega of the world. One unintended consequence of this instance of punching above one’s weight on a global scale is that this week’s tennis takes place at 0 degrees longtitude. As the signs insist, it’s the final showdown. Zero hour.

The ATP likes to play up the Britishness of this event; London, as anyone watching the World Tour Finals is repeatedly reminded, is calling. The players pose with the Prime Minister or a red London bus, as if there’s nothing more to being British than a suit and a stiff upper lip. Personally, next year I want to see the eight finalists come out of a TARDIS dressed as various cultural heroes from the UK. Harry Potter. Robin Hood. Shakespeare, complete with tights and Elizabethan ruff. Mr. Darcy and King Arthur. Labyrinth-era David Bowie. Braveheart. Speaking of whom, the stars just might be aligning for Andy Murray, who recorded the first singles victory of the championships today in a 6-2 6-4 defeat of Robin Soderling.

Murray, well-rested, set loose on a slow, low-bouncing indoor court, has as good a chance as anyone of ending his turbulent year on a high note. Better, if you believe in the power of home-court advantage. But I’m wondering if, The Clash notwithstanding, there is anything quintessentially British about this event that makes playing here a better experience for the Scot than what he might find at any other anonymous indoor venue.

A tide of people made its way to the arena, braving the icy rain hanging in the air and the biting wind blowing off the Thames. Tennis is calling, and London is answering. It’s not like a Wimbledon crowd, either; scattered throughout are the sort of middle-ageds you’d expect to see in SW19, who pack for a day’s spectating as if it’s a hiking expedition, but there are plenty of groups of young people, too. It’s not a lawn tennis crowd; it’s a London crowd, and that means that there are all sorts of people here. This is the newly gentrified Docklands (it’s not too far from Deptford, where the street my mother grew up on was condemned for slums and demolished to make way for a high-rise), not leafy Wimbledon. This is the heart of a city that continuously reinvents itself.

The 02 arena itself started out as the Millennium Dome, built by the New Labour government at a cost of 789 million pounds to celebrate what it meant to be British at the year 2000. Five years later, a colossal white elephant, it was sold as an empty shell to Orange to be rebranded; a bloated failure to define our national identity, repackaged as a slick, corporate entertainment facility.

Last time I was here, it was for Kings of Leon; last week, it was the Gorillaz; next week, something else. Everywhere you look this week, though, you see ATP World Tour Finals branding and signage. The big screens carry vignettes on the sponsors’ support for sporting opportunity for children, or remind the crowd that Sky carries over 100 hours of live tennis a year. Volunteers shoot ATP -branded T-shirts into the crowd during breaks; the fans are asked to call the toss at the beginning of the match. Tennis, tennis, everywhere, and plenty of Corona to drink. But this venue was made to be a blank canvas, and the blanket of tennis promotion that covers it this week will be whipped off next.

Unlike the Parisian hip-hop and house of Bercy, the London DJ favours classic rock and pop during changeovers, with a fondness for Britpop, Bowie and Lady Gaga. Raised on the silence of Wimbledon, there’s an expectant hush during points, and a minimum of polite applause between. Invited to show their appreciation for the slick play of the Bryans, the crowd dutifully complies, but it’s about to get a lot louder in the arena. Because Andy Murray is about to play.

There’s no shortage of hyperbole preceding the British no. 1 on to the court. On the pre-match VT, Justin Gimelstob informs us that Andy Murray is the master of when to use the drop shot (a bold statement that Murray will later seem intent on disproving). The announcer describes him, apparently without irony, as “an amazingly gifted and talented athlete who reads the game like a wily veteran”. Robin Soderling is introduced as … Robin Soderling.

They still haven’t got the hang of the son et lumiere in the stadium, missing audio-visual cues all over the place. Soderling, too, looks out of step with events; the choruses of “c’mon Andy” from the crowd are restrained, partly because Murray rapidly establishes dominance. The pace and power of Soderling’s forehand is more impressive, and less ungainly than it looks on TV. For a shot more utilitarian than beautiful, the length of the backswing makes it seem almost impractical.

This one is the fifth Murray match I’ve been lucky enough to watch in 2010, and I’m nowhere near getting sick of it. He’s amazing when he wants to be - smooth, aggressive, clever. I love watching his feet, and the exceptional balance that enables him hit forward while going backwards, which creates good depth on even defensive shots.

I like Soderling, too, but the experience is a bit like watching a Hollywood action hero taking on a gang of foreign terrorists. You know Soderling is going to attack, pummel the ball, press forward until he misses. The formulaic elements don’t vary, but you still want to see it unfold. Watching Murray, on the other hand, is more like viewing a David Lynch movie. It's  incomprehensible at times, full of twists and turns, sequences of unexpected and hypnotic beauty, and permanently on the verge of straying into the surreal.

I’m also aware of how often Murray aces his way out of trouble. One has to wonder, can he - will he - ever serve big for seven matches in a row? Without that ace, you’ve pretty much got a hole where a grand slam should be - and a crowd that still finds more entertainment in ironically cheering for the retired Tim Henman, the paradigm of the plucky over-achiever, than it does in taking the often rocky path of being a full-on Murray fan. Errors are greeted with a peculiarly British mumble of disappointment, a dispirited acknowledgement of the inevitable, and even Murray’s exceptional first set doesn’t satisfy the punters - a young woman near me shyly says “he’s playing well, isn’t he?”, only for her boyfriend to snap “he’s world no. 4 [sic], he should be playing well.” Tough crowd.

But Murray’s a tough player. He isn’t Monfils, looking outside himself, drawing energy from the cheers; I don’t know if he hears the crowd, if it means anything to him. He’s introverted, inwardly focused. It’s not a coincidence that he yells his own name when he commits an error he finds particularly egregious. He does like to complain, looking down at his legs, the court, his racquet when he makes an error, searching for something to blame. That’s British. I think about all of his disappointments this year - Melbourne, the lost months when he seemed sick of it all, his crushing defeat at Wimbledon and the disaster that was the US Open - and what it must take to pick up and carry on.

That’s rather British, too.

[[I'm pleased to say that once again this week,  during the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals, we have Gauloises covering the action for TennisWorld. Only now, shortly after posting, I've changed her avatar to her proper name. Hannah will be filing regulary, at least during the early going, and don't forget to look for Racquet Reaction posts as well - Pete]]


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Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:36 AM

That shot wasnt even ha;r way up the net Tomas and it looked like you just wanted to get out of the point

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:38 AM

Hmmm at least that was the first decent rally by both players

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 09:38 AM

MA this YEC is just sizzling with excitement lol. I have high hopes for Andy Rafa though.

Posted by sisu 11/22/2010 at 09:39 AM

Wonderful point!

Love the fight from both for this game.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:40 AM

Hell how did you manage that shot Tomas

Good low slice from Nole too

This has given me sone hope

This game is only 11 mins and ticking

Posted by Jay 11/22/2010 at 09:40 AM

Good morning, all.

I started reading this article, then had to stop to check the byline. Thanks again, Hannah, for a very nice read and take on this tourney.

Thanks to Madame President for the Moya piece, too.

Get well soon, Serena!

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 09:41 AM

Berdych has hit a few great forehands which is a good sign.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:41 AM

Colour Me Surprise He Held after 12 mins!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Andrew 11/22/2010 at 09:41 AM

Berdych does hold, but is down a break, 1-2, in the early games against Djokovic. Loop and run, boys, loop and run.

Posted by sisu 11/22/2010 at 09:42 AM

I'm very sad for Serena. I miss her playing. Thanks for the update MA.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:42 AM

Jay No worries I thought it was a great article/

Posted by gauloises 11/22/2010 at 09:43 AM

Yo. Just popping in to mention that it was completely my suggestion and decision - I wasn't "outed". I've belatedly realised it's fairer all round to post under my own name, not least to the tournament who accredited me/the people I'm writing about. Kind of makes me feel like I have a big target on my back, but then I feel like that anyway, that's the great thing about paranoia :)

Thanks for all your kind words and encouragement.

Master Ace - didn't Sanja Ancic play with Mario one year? I don't think she exactly qualified through merit either. I think she's a pharmacist now.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/22/2010 at 09:43 AM

Maybe Berdy has woken up at last !

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:44 AM

Tomas that was soo lame you just gifted Novak the passer there

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:45 AM

Well Nole a better service game from you there at least

Quality of play isnt good compared to the other group at this stage

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 09:50 AM

MA: Thanks for clarifying about Coco, that sure would be a tall team if she paired with John. :)

Posted by sisu 11/22/2010 at 09:50 AM

Heather, in case you missed it earlier this morning, there was a good interview with AndyR on TTC. They may replay it before his match this afternoon but since you won’t be able to see that, maybe you can catch it on the ATP site. It’s the one they all apparently have done wearing their suits. Andy looked very handsome without his trademark cap.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:53 AM

Heather LOL! I just had a visual with those 2 playing at the Hopman Cup

Actually the field is a strong one and I am looking forward to it

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:55 AM

Master Ace I wonder if Justine will play another lead up tournament apart from the Hopman Cup for the AO 2011?

Well a love service game from Tomas there?

Posted by NP 11/22/2010 at 09:55 AM

Nole's ugly whipping FH is back.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:57 AM

Tomas another miss going up the line though you were too late with that shot and it does help to move your feet.Too many u/errors

Posted by sisu 11/22/2010 at 09:57 AM

He's really fun to watch. Great point!

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 09:58 AM

I usually enjoy BBC's radio coverage of tennis but it's terrible at WTF. They are talking thru the whole match and every fourth thought is about Andy Murray. I don't recommend it.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:58 AM

Good defensive on the b/hand from Nole there and good at the net too

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:59 AM

NP Welcome I dont think this match will engage you

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:00 AM

Tomas that was just plain woeful

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:01 AM

Novak please just step up and end this 1st set ASAP

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:02 AM

Thanks Nole 1st set 6-3

Posted by NP 11/22/2010 at 10:03 AM

AM, it's not. I'd rather be watching Dancing with the Stars right now.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:03 AM

Considering Berdych is struggling with his confidence right now, I very much doubt that he will be to do anything in the next set.

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 10:04 AM

Sisu, thanks! I think I saw it the other day, was Justin interviewing him? Did he talk about he and Brooke having kids? That's the one I caught the other day. It was such a good interview for Andy fans! :)

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) 11/22/2010 at 10:05 AM

Aha! The scoreboard here says 4-3. But the tennis.com SB, I should know by now, isn't the most reliable.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 10:06 AM

SkySports showing Murray at the practice court. Reportedly, he's been seen practicing shots to the high backhand zone and working on his backhand slice. hmmm... wonder what he has in mind against Mr. Federer... ;-)

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 10:06 AM

Ugh, Berdy's 1st % was in the toilet in the first set. Yikes...not a good day at the office for him.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:07 AM

NP Dancing with the Stars sounds good to me.I got up soo early for this match as well.I should have stayed asleep.

Help me if Rafa v Roddick is the same.pfft.

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:07 AM

Heather, hi! What did Andy say about having kids? (:

Posted by Master Ace 11/22/2010 at 10:09 AM

"Loop and run, boys, loop and run."

Andrew,
I guess that what Murray had in mind for his competitors. LOL

Gauloises,
I will have to look that up on the Ancics.

Aussiemarg,
Good question on Justine. If she does, it will be Sydney but I have a feeling that playing 3 to 4 matches is all she will be willing to play before AO. Speaking of AO, I got a few more weeks before contenders and pretenders and if Serena does not play, who will capture the top spot? And, I got to come up with a name for AO to go along with the FO(Rafael Nadal Invitational), W(Williams-Federer Classic) and USO(Moonpie Open). USO name will change but will it be the Jersey Girl Open. Thought I saw another good name for USO but I already forgot it.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:09 AM

Kirsty Gossip monger lol!

Kids already?

Posted by NP 11/22/2010 at 10:10 AM

AM, the WTF needs a Pistol Pete.

Posted by sisu 11/22/2010 at 10:12 AM

No Heather. This one he was seated with the ATP logo in the background and only he was on camera. He spoke about his season and how happy he was to be here after what he’s been through this year.

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 10:13 AM

Hi Kristy! How are you? :) Oh it was a good interview, at the end Justin asked Andy about married life and about having kids and he said something to the effect of that it was something they were both looking forward to in the future and that Brooke will be working longer than he will so he expects he'll be changing more diapers which is both "gross and exciting" at the same time.

No kids anytime soon, AM. :) Hi to you too!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:13 AM

Master Ace Well I know you will come up with a good name for the AO going on your previous names.

I guess Kim would have to be the obvious choice given the fact she is the Queen Of the Hard courts? though she hasnt done well at the AO to date.Though I have been reading she wants to focus and do well there this year.She will be playing Medibank so I will get a chance to watch her live there I guess.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:13 AM

It's over for Berdych.

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:13 AM

I know, AM, I am totally voracious in any gossip regarding Andy and Brooklyn!

It's pitiful.

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 10:13 AM

And that's the nail on the coffin for Berdy, very much misfired forehand.

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 10:14 AM

Oh okay, Sisu. I'll have to check it out when I get home then, thanks....my silly company doesn't believe in streaming video at work...they apparently expect us to actually work...bummer! :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:14 AM

Heather LOL! I had a feeling the children would be put on the back burner for soemtime.Mrs Roddick is only young and I guess wants to focus on her career a bit.

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:15 AM

"voracious in" isn't right. "Voracious about." Coffee not yet working.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:15 AM

NP There is only one Pistol Pete

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/22/2010 at 10:17 AM

Yep ! This match is definitely over now.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:17 AM

Well Tomas had a little opening there buy Novak has just closed the door

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:17 AM

Heather, thanks! I'm fine. At work, so can't watch the bloodbath btw Nadal and Andy. ): I fear Rafa will clobber him.

Not surprised he and Brooklyn are waiting on kids. She's only 23 or something.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:18 AM

Good 1st serves got Novak through there

Tomas? no comment

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:20 AM

Heather and Kirsty

May I remind you both Andy has a 3-2 over Rafa on the h/courts?

So this isnt a given that Rafa will win ok

Though I may kill myself if he dosent ok lol!

Hey he has his career slam now so it dosent matter anymore lol!

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 10:23 AM

Eh, I don't know AM, while he does have an edge with the record on h/c this is an indoor hard court which I don't believe they've ever played each other on before, though I could be wrong and not Andy's best surface. I was feeling good about it, at least positive but then I saw just how slow the courts are playing. Hoping for a good match at least!

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:24 AM

"Hey he has his career slam now so it dosent matter anymore lol!"

AM: Not according to some in the media. GOAT status is riding on this championship.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:24 AM

oops Novak watch your feet as you go for those balls pls

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:25 AM

Thanks AM, I know about AndyR's h2h w/ Rafa, but the latter's incredible year feels like an unstoppable force. Coupled with Andy's less than incredible one.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:26 AM

wilson75 LOL!

Well Rafa isnt in the equation for Goat status I am afraid

Goodness me the commies must be bored out ot their minds.I think they need a well earned break.

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 10:26 AM

Wilson: The media is so lame, can't they just be Co-GOAT's? They seem to like each other perhaps they could just share the GOAT title and call it a day.

Posted by Andrew 11/22/2010 at 10:26 AM

Djokovic continues to demonstrate that he's the ATP player with the best command of angle after that game. He may be playing the slowest of the eight: certainly, a quick win would keep Djokovic's interest alive in the tournament.

Posted by Anna 11/22/2010 at 10:28 AM

I think Rafa himself has put enough importance on this championship by declaring since the USO that he wants to do well at the WTF. I think he will also try to do really well at the AO, to complete the grand slam and then the GOAT conversation will become much more substantial.
And from what we've seen so far, if Rafa sets a goal, he achieves it

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:29 AM

Well Rafa hasnt played since the Asina swing where Melzer just blew him off the court and just hit through him.He took the time away from Rafa there.Long time since I have seen a player to that to Rafa let me tell you.

Though I did have a "open bar" going.So it wasnt all that bad lol!

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:29 AM

AM: I agree with you.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:33 AM

Heather: I wish they would stop with the GOAT talk. As long as both are still playing there shouldn't be any discussion on the issue.

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:34 AM

Good point about Melzer, AM. But now Rafa will be rested and, I predict, focused. Andy will have all he can handle.

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 10:34 AM

Agreed, Wilson. It's just all so ridiculous, how can you declare someone the GOAT when their careers are not over yet?

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:35 AM

Anna: I agree Rafa said he would like to win WTF but he never equated it with being the GOAT.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:36 AM

Kristy Rafa may be too rested? lol!

We shall see.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:37 AM

Heather: Not only that, but the criteria for being declared the GOAT is constantly being changed by the media.

Posted by Ruth 11/22/2010 at 10:37 AM

Oh, there's that Djoker look that brings back memories of Screech!

Posted by Anna 11/22/2010 at 10:37 AM

wilson75, Rafa would never start the GOAT conversation- he is too humble for that.
It is just my observation/ opinion that he is really focusing on these twwo tournaments- the WTF and 2011 AO

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:38 AM

Yes Tomas I would put a towel over my head as well in the change

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:39 AM

I guess Tomas is getting thrashed?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:39 AM

Anna Not to get ahead of myself I hope Rafa can do well at the AO 2011.I will be there with fingers crossed of course.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:40 AM

Nole were you thinking you were playing doubles with that attempted shot up the line there?

Posted by Anna 11/22/2010 at 10:42 AM

AM, I am so jealous!
I hope you witness some thrilling matches.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 10:42 AM

AM, such a bad miss on that smash, I believe Novak's mind was on the DC for a moment. ;-)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:42 AM

Jason was just saying he thinks this match from Novak has been just as good as Murrays and Rogers from yesterday?? Hmmmm.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:43 AM

Anna: I'm not saying that Rafa started the GOAT talk in fact he has gone out of his way to say he's not the GOAT. But you said that him winning the WTF and AO will bolster his claim to GOAT status. Whether, I agree with your opinion or not, is not the point. I just wish the media would like him and Roger play out their careers before bestowing GOAT status on them.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:44 AM

Anna I went this year though as you know Rafa didnt make the 2nd week.

Hopefully he will be there next year.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:45 AM

Holds To Love I think your on the money there with Novak

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/22/2010 at 10:46 AM

boy this match is really helping me not yawn(not!!!)
wonder if rafa will keep up the snoozefest or inject some unnecessary drama?
at any rate after winning us open , i think as a rafa fan i've been selfish enough and got more than i dared to expect back in january '10!
but i suppose rafa's gotta find motivation just like fed to keep on going when u've practically won everytime!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:46 AM

Come on Novak

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:46 AM

I wish tennis TV would stop showing famous people, spouses and coaches in the crowd. There's no lighting on the crowd so when they show them, all I see is a black screen on my TV.

Posted by NP 11/22/2010 at 10:47 AM

Clinical performance by Nole. Congrats.

Later.

Posted by Anna 11/22/2010 at 10:47 AM

Sorry to have brought up the GOAT conversation again. I, in no way meant that Rafa would be the GOAT, I do not believe in that. But IF he won the WTF and the AO 2011, the media frenzy would be unstoppable

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 10:48 AM

Novak 63,63

Thanks for putting me out of my misery

Tomas no comment.

Posted by Kristy 11/22/2010 at 10:51 AM

Well done, Nole. It must have been shame over his brown boots that hampered Berd's performance.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 10:51 AM

Anna: You have nothing to apologise. But I agree that the media frenzy would be overdrive if Rafa won both tournaments. Not to mention, the pressure will be enormous on him to win the calendar slam. It never stops with the media.

Posted by AO OPEN 11/22/2010 at 10:54 AM

DJOKO! =D

Posted by coolh 11/22/2010 at 10:56 AM

Murray...another who will be king,who is the best,the greatest etc.
Murray is acutally a journeyman....like Davedenkyo,Nalbanian.Will win a few titles,matches but will not win a GS.
Murray just doesnt have IT.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 11:01 AM

Well at the AO site for 2011 the media is already in over drive with the prospect of Rafa winning.

Though to me the winner of the AO is always the hardest to pick in ways.Its the 1st GS of the year.Players are coming off a break as well even though they may play lead up tournaments in Australia to get climatised with the conditions etc

For me its a slam in way that is up for grabs.That also goes with the women.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 11:03 AM

AM: I agree. The AO is always unpredictable. It going to be even more unpredictable on the women's side whether Serena plays or not next year.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 11:10 AM

wilson75 I feel this injury with Serena is quite serious.She has had 2 operations to date on her foot.If she has already withdrawn from the Hopman Cup she will at least need to play a tournament before the AO if she can play.She played Medibank this year as her lead up tournament.

So I guess it will be a waiting game if she can recover in time to defend her title.

Posted by Colette 11/22/2010 at 11:16 AM

"AM: I agree. The AO is always unpredictable."

MA, precisely why I had a while back suggested a name, not for USO, but AO - the Wide Open.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 11:16 AM

AM: I had the feeling Serena was not going to play AO since she announced that she had the second surgery and my doubts grew even more when I saw that picture of her on crutches last week. As Roger always says things change quickly in tennis, I still remember Mary Carrillo at Wimbledon talking to Serena about reaching 18 slams. Now it looks like she might not make it that far.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 11:18 AM

Colette: I like the name for AO. I hope MA is taking notes.

Posted by Colette 11/22/2010 at 11:19 AM

Follow up to the dubs conversation, I have always hoped that when Venus and Serena do hang it up in singles (assuming it's not injury-related) that they will grace us at least for some years with their doubles play.

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 11/22/2010 at 11:19 AM

jewel: "So far, it's showing just how impressive Soderling has been over the last year and a half, in backing up that first big performance."

i think that's been underrated with Robin. Earlier this year he was struggling with an elbow injury (i think it was elbow) and his results were a bit spotty. Yet he has still managed to play well enough to move into the 4 slot, and make the WTF's for 2 years in a row. He's definately here to stay, imo.

Now if he can just get his act together for tomorrow. THough I like Ferru too. That's a bit of a dither for me... sigh.

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