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Final Thoughts 11/28/2010 - 5:59 PM

Hp 

by Hannah Wilks, TW Contributing Writer

On the protracted journey to North Greenwich this morning (London transport is laboring under major engineering works and facing a tube strike), almost every conversation I overhear is a discussion of Federer and Nadal. It makes me so pleased that on a weekend when the first Ashes test is underway, England have taken on South Africa at Twickenham, and the usual round of high-profile Premiership football clashes are on—Spurs v Liverpool being today's hot ticket—tennis can still fill the O2 arena.

It also makes me feel slightly ashamed of myself for not being more excited. As far as I'm concerned, the greatest rivalry in sport—as I understand we're now obligated to call it—reached its zenith at Wimbledon 2008 when Rafa carved out the heart of Roger's empire and more or less devoured it, and since then it's basically been one-way traffic. Rafa is the best player in the world right now, Roger has had one of the greatest careers; these things seem obvious to me. They don't even play each other that much—twice in 2009, and this their second meeting in 2010—meaning that their rivalry is mainly played out in records and statistics, and on their behalf in forums and blogs across the internet by their fans.

If I'm not excited though, I'm clearly the only one. The crowd applauds politely during the doubles final, a straight-sets victory for Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic; the trophy ceremony resembles a game of musical chairs as all four players acknowledge the end of old partnerships and the forming of new ones. It's good fun, but it's not what everyone's come for today.

Never has the O2 arena been so full of flags, Swiss and Spanish, and signs, some painstakingly-sewn and impressive, others scribbled in felt tip on what looks like scrap paper. The reach of the Federer signs is impressively global: 'Lugano Greets King Roger!', and more bafflingly, 'Namibia Loves Roger.' The Nadal supporters' signs read 'VAMOS RAFA' or simply 'RAFA!!!!', as if the man needs no introduction, just punctuation. It's a breathtakingly international crowd, too; in the past few days I've met people—not journalists, just fans—who have come from all over the world to be here. For every estuary voice which howls 'come on, Rog!', there's an 'allez Rafa!' or an authentic 'vamos!'

I've heard enough serious discussion of the crushing psychological blow that one opponent can inflict on the other by making him wait at the beginning of the match to note down how events turn out. This time, Federer manages to stay seated, visibly twiddling his thumbs, until after Nadal has got up to join him at net for the coin toss. It's either a minor miracle or a bold statement of dominance, but Nadal strikes back immediately by being substantially late in rising for play. In the chair, Mohammed Layani is already holding his head in both hands, like the mother of two squabbling siblings on a long car journey.

By the time the first three games have been played, it's obvious that we're not going to see any huge tactical surprises; nobody's come up with a masterstroke since the last time they played. Federer is going all-out aggressive, ending points quickly wherever possible; Nadal is trying to break down Federer's backhand. Not earth-shattering.

Stationary, Nadal looks squat and chunky across the net from the lithe Federer. That impression all but disappears once they both start to move. Nadal's feet scuttle across the baseline like a beetle; it's better to watch the unbelievable speed with which his racquet whips around his head as he delivers each forehand like a grenade. Despite that, it seems to have been all Federer so far, bounding on to every short ball like an eager puppy to smack a forehand winner. More impressively, his backhand doesn't seem to be leaking errors; indeed, more often that not he finishes a protracted exchange by finding an acute and unexpected angle off that side. The same shot gets him the first break, his fifth forehand winner the first set, 6-3. He hasn't lost a point on his first serve yet.

Federer is playing great. Nadal isn't, quite. Whether it's the remarkable speed with which Federer seizes his opportunities or not, the Spaniard looks a step slow, and his shots don't have the same penetration they did against Murray. Time and again his balls have been landing short and Federer isn't giving him a second chance at any of them. At the changeover, he sits miserably with his hands in his lap, looking between coach and umpire as if unsure who to expect a telling-off from first. His is the only long face in here; Maradona, Princess Eugenie, Thierry Henry all get big cheers from a happy crowd. Boris Johnson gets the biggest, proving once again that the fact that people in this city have the good sense to fill arenas for tennis doesn't mean they display the best judgement in all areas of their lives.

Nadal, inevitably, regroups. A return winner at 1-2 lets him fist-pump and strut, predatory for the first time, and he breaks on Federer's first significant forehand error. When Federer slips and falls in the next game trying to reach a bounce off the net cord, the Swiss is starting to look a little frantic and Nadal firmly in control. One weak service game and the set is gone.

The crowd at least are pleased about it; everyone would have felt short-changed if this one finished in straights. It feels almost like the match proper is starting now, and the rallies are growing ever more spectacular; the tennis that these two men can produce on pure instinct, playing on their veins, is breathtaking. Nadal is hitting much deeper than he was at the beginning of the match, but Federer's serve—after a brief vacation in the second set—is clicking beautifully, time and time again leaving Nadal stranded by the wide serve to the deuce court. He's still finding those angles off the backhand, giving him a toehold on Rafa's serve at 1-2 down. When that toehold becomes break point, the roar from the crowd is earsplitting. Lars Graff would have barked 'Please!' down the microphone as if having to restrain himself from adding 'stop embarrassing yourselves!'; Layani, on the other hand, milks the moment, drawing out the words 'aadvaantaaage Federer!' Federer manages to box Nadal into a corner until his attempted passer flies wide and consolidates the break despite alternating service winners and groundstroke errors, and is suddenly looking rather impregnable at 4-1. When he breaks again, the Federer fans are ecstatic and the Nadal fans are putting on their jackets. It's a cold day outside.

There's a slight oddness to the end of the match, as Federer's winning forehand looks out to seventy-five percent of the stadium. The fans sitting behind that line are the first to cheer, then as Nadal shakes his head and starts walking to the net, Federer is next. He's actually won, even if it's taken everyone a moment to realize it.

During his speech, Nadal's voice creaks with fatigue. In a possible Freudian slip, he thanks the crowd for their support 'in Wimbledon.' Federer quickly reiterates the mention of Wimbledon in his own victory speech. Deliberate or not, both of them know that the real battleground is elsewhere. This has been an extended trailer for Roger and Rafa, 2011; coming soon to a Slam near you.

Watching the confetti and camera flashes, I think about the significance of this victory. I'm starting to share some of Pete's skepticism about the format and implications of this event. Nadal may have been defeated, but no-one can deny it's been his year, and a rocky one for Federer by his lofty standards. I doubt that this defeat will impact Nadal for long; and I don''t know what Federer's victory can give him in terms of motivation and confidence for next year that the champion doesn't already possess. The Fedal numbers may have shifted a little, giving the hardcore fans fresh ammunition in their ongoing battles, but I'm not sure it means much more than that.

But it has been a week of great entertainment, of tennis that's encompassed the entire range from execrable to exceptional. It's given the ATP a chance to showcase their product, and London an opportunity to demonstrate another facet of its nature as a tennis city. On a personal level, it's been a week of staying up until 3 a.m., trying to find the right words for the best players in the world; a week when taking longhand notes during Nadal matches left my fingers blistered, and Djokovic's smile distracted me enough that I left my mobile phone in his press conference. (He didn't call.)

It may not quite be the 'fifth Slam' just yet—but it's been a bloody good week all the same.


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Posted by Federax 11/30/2010 at 10:04 AM

That's a great coup for the Raonic team, wow.

The other Canadian I was referring to is Peter Polansky. Played some good matches over the summer, but I really don't know much about his "ceiling".

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/30/2010 at 10:05 AM

Yeah, sorry about Rusedski...

Posted by Sherlock 11/30/2010 at 10:05 AM

"did we have to read endless pages about it like we do now?"

Tim, if you weren't talking about Rafa ad nauseum, we'd be on page 2 instead of page 9. :)

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 10:08 AM

jewell - "Apparently Dimitrov pushed over a chair umpire the other day after losing to Ricardas Berankis."

Now if that isn't the surest indication that this kid is the next Federer, I don't know what is. Five years from now, people will be talking about how Dimitrov needs to show more emotion as he mows through the competition...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/30/2010 at 10:14 AM

Hey Sherlock and TMFunk! & LOL on Dimitrov. I'm still holding out some hope for Tomic, too.

Posted by Federax 11/30/2010 at 10:15 AM

the Australian Open (which has become my fav slam over the years), whose matches are played late-night or in the dead of night if you're near Ottawa/Quebec like I am. I remember going to the TV set every half hour or so to watch the score. Needless to say, I was a train wreck and basically got no sleep that night. But I slept well when all was said and done. :)

+++Oops. Forgot the important info: I was talking about the Fed/Berdych match in 09. (Without that clarification, the paragraph had no point whatsoever. ;)

Posted by sokol 11/30/2010 at 10:15 AM

hi, everyone
is it still mostly Fedal board? :-)

anyways,
some news on my Russians :-)
Shamil told that he reaced the agreement for players for the first round of Fed Cup in February. He's projected team against France: Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Safina, Pavlyuchenkova, and probably Kleybanova will join.

On one hand, I think it sounds too good to be true, on the other headcasey Fed Cup team :-)

Also Shamil in his interview he praised vera for her schievements and said that he's expecting good results from Maria next year. Uhmmm, I hope he's right, but...

Posted by sokol 11/30/2010 at 10:16 AM

"if you weren't talking about Rafa ad nauseum, we'd be on page 2 instead of page 9."

lol

Posted by sokol 11/30/2010 at 10:19 AM

"reaced"="reached", "schievements"="achievements"

before I go back to lurking, wanted to wish a lot of luck to Serbia in the final.

Ajde!!!

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 10:20 AM

ladyjulia from page 8 - I don't agree with this but TMFunk and CL might (paraphrasing): "Nadal’s shaky history on hard courts is the best argument against using the two players’ head-to-head record to judge their rivalry"

well, ladyjulia, actually I don't agree either, but because in my view
a) A rivalry is judged by the sum total of career accomplishments, of which H2H is one factor, but not the most important (#of titles, GS's, weeks @ #1, Olympic singles gold etc are imv more important. I don't consider DC a particularly important factor coz its a team event)
b) We cannot judge anything until Fed and Rafa's careers are done and dusted for good, which may be 2 years in Rafa's case and 20 in Fed's (Just yanking your chain Rafa fans!!! I hope your guy goes on treating his fans to some stupendous tennis for many, many years...)

SamE - I sympathise with you, but this is a board and at its essence functions per free market principles. Topics that get traction will keep going, and those that don't will die. Unfortunately for FOOPS, Fedal is a very popular topic on this board, and it takes time for it to die.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 10:20 AM

jewell - lol at being nervous watching highlights / DVDs.

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 10:22 AM

I’m not here because it seems tacky to comment on one’s own post, but I have to say that every time I watch USO 2009 final, I get really scared that this time it’ll end differently …

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 10:22 AM

Federax - isn't Frank Dancevic Canadian? I thought he had a good run a couple of seasons back...

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 10:24 AM

waves to Gauloises....welcome back. Your articles have been wonderful. tips nonexistent hat.

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 10:31 AM

Sokol,
I read that on the Russian Fed Cup team that is projected to play against France.

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 10:32 AM

Gauloises,
Why are you getting scared that the 2009 USO F will end differently? By the way, good write ups at London and Paris. Ready for 2011?

Posted by Kwaku 11/30/2010 at 10:36 AM

So much for the theory that Rafa is the fittest player on tour. Which I never adhered to, by the way.

Posted by Ruth 11/30/2010 at 10:37 AM

++"But only in tennis do you see people clamoring to fatigue as a rational argument to justify that their favourite player is losing. "With rest, my player would have kicked your player's butt."++

So true, and if any TW regulars were among who those "people" had expressed such a ridiculous faux argument, perhaps, then, there might be some justification for the never-ending complaints about such an "argument." we've got enough Wibe generated arguments t deal with, don't you think? Why do we at TW have to suffer if some writers or idiots elsewhere say something stupid? (I don't even remember hearing one of the anonymous trolls mouth that opinion at TW, but I wouldn't be surprised if one of them did.)

The rest of us really deserve a break from the complaints which have reached the level of whining about this, for us, non-issue.

BTW, jackson, I'm glad that you responded to jem's comment about the surface change topic; I was sure that you had neither stated nor implied that such a change was necessary for Rafa's benefit. :-)

I actually remember hearing people suggest, years ago, that if we couldn't have a 5th Slam and locate it in South America (a geographical area that, many think, deserves a major tennis event), the least we could do is occasionally have the YEC in SA, possibly on an outdoor clay court -- and that was long before Rafa was a name in tennis! LOL

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/30/2010 at 10:41 AM

*waves to sokol*

I'd *really* like Maria, Serena and Justine all to come back healthy and/or in form as soon as possible next year.

Posted by Kwaku 11/30/2010 at 10:42 AM

That argument is like saying "If my player were better, he would have kicked your player's butt." :-)
Fitness is just part of the equation.

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 10:42 AM

Thanks Freddy. *attempts non-existent curtsey*

Master Ace – because I think a part of me still doesn’t believe I saw Delpo beat Federer to win a Slam. And frankly, with the way 2010’s gone, it seems more like a distant dream/possible hallucination than ever.

Raring to go for 2011! Er … is 2010 over yet? *needs a snooze*

I’ll tell you, I don’t see 2011 being a great year for the FooPs.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 10:53 AM

Quick existential question - does being a Fed or Rafa KAD preclude one from being an FOOP? Think not. Or does FOOP means your 1st player has to be an OP? Shouldn't it then be a OPKAD or KOOP?

I'm a Fed KAD, but have really enjoyed watching Safin, Nalbandian, JCF, Murray, DelPo, Nole roughly in that order. Have always wished them well and even if any of them were to beat Fed in a GS final (like DelPo did), would feel happy for them. Sorry, can't extend that to Rafa :)

Posted by sokol 11/30/2010 at 10:55 AM

*waves to jewell*

"I'd *really* like Maria, Serena and Justine all to come back healthy and/or in form as soon as possible next year."

me too, especially Maria :-))

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 10:56 AM

Well, when I originated the acronym, I was thinking that being a KAD of Fedal together or separately precluded being a FooP. But it's out there in the language now living in its own life. So ... who knows?

Posted by sokol 11/30/2010 at 10:57 AM

"I don’t see 2011 being a great year for the FooPs"

....................

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 11/30/2010 at 10:57 AM

i nominate 2011 as the year of the FOOP's! :)

sigh. but it does seem that rafa and feddy aren't going anywhere. But I think Nole's getting his mojo back; he's playing much more consistently this last half of the year. (Mojo = serve btw)

MAndy is going to continue to make people's life miserable, and 2011 is HIS SLAM YEAR. in theory. it could be. maybe. sigh. hopefully?

Elfie should be back. though I'd expect it to be a while to have him in top form.

Robin, I think he's going to build on the masters win in Bercy.

Berdy. *shakes head* it will, as always, be an adventure with him I think.

Be nice if Kolya continues to find his form.

Ferru won't fold up again. Youz and Melzer are going to continue to cause some problems I think. Melzer in particular.

So we'll see - it could be Year of the FOOP! Whoohoo!

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 10:59 AM

I definitely want Murray to win a slam in 2011. More than Federer, at some levels.

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 11:01 AM

Jb,
I do not see Soderling going to build on his win at Bercy especially if he and Norman split up if rumors are true. Overall, I agree with Gauloises that 2011 will be more of the same with Nadal and Federer winning all 4 Slams and WTF.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 11:02 AM

Oh well - it hasn't been a great year for an FooP since 2004 - 4 GS (Gaudio, Safin, Nole, DelPo) out of the last 28...plus 3 YECs (Nalby, Nole, DavyD)

I'm guessing Fedal will pocket 3 out of 4 next yr. Maybe 1 goes to Nole or Murray (perhaps the USO)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/30/2010 at 11:02 AM

Maybe it depends on who comes first in one's heart...I like Murray, Djokovic and Roger (and lots of others) as well as Rafa, but Rafa comes first, and I'll root for him over the others, even when I feel guilty about it, as with Murray. I'm usually happy for them and their fans if they beat Rafa. (if that makes sense.)

If Rafa goes out early chances are I will pick one of those three to root for, but somehow I feel I can't really call myself a FOOP. Plus I talk about Fedal too much. :)

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 11:05 AM

I like your enthusiasm, jb, but if I may I’d like to counter it with some pessimism …

Mandy remains Mandy, and Rafa just beat him when he was playing about as well as he can possibly play, which he by no means can be counted upon to do, so I’m not that hopeful. (Well, I’ll always be hopeful.)

Delpo … Mr. 262-with-a-broken-wrist? I’d like him just to be healthy for five minutes together.

I’m curious to know what effect the split with Magnus will have on Robin – frankly, if Magnus broke up with me, I’d die of a broken heart. We’ll see if Robin’s made of sterner stuff. Still, I feel like Robin might have gone as far as he can go this year. Again, I hope not.

Youzh and Melz are getting on a bit, to be honest.

And my expectations aren’t high, by the way, I reckon one OP getting a Slam would constitute a good year for FooPs. Sadly I think Nole will have to carry that burden all alone.

Jewell, you are NOT a FOOP. You are not a FOOP if you root for one of Fedal when they play a supposed other favourite of yours. Sorry, but that's how it is.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 11:06 AM

Agree on wanting Murray to win a Slam in 2011...but NOT if I have to choose b/w his 1st and Fed's 17th....Mandy has many years left to play, Fed doesn't.

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 11:07 AM

I'm not making another pact with you, Arun, not after how the last one turned out :(

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/30/2010 at 11:07 AM

Yeah, I know. :)

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 11:08 AM

For me, in a slam, if Fed is out of contention, I'll probably root for Muzz if he's still there. I just feel for the guy. If he isn't around, perhaps Nole. If he isn't around either, perhaps Tomas Muster :) Outside the slams, if Fed isn't in contention, don't really care...just kick back with a bag of chips and enjoy the tennis I guess...

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 11:08 AM

"You are not a FOOP if you root for one of Fedal when they play a supposed other favourite of yours"

But I always root for all of them when they play against Rafa...

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 11:10 AM

Isn't that just being anti-Rafa?

I think you're a FooP if it makes you happier to see one of your favourites get past the second round of a 250 in Outer Mongolia than it does Fedal fans when their guys win Slams :)

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 11:12 AM

Murray is not winning a slam in 2011. The spoils are going to be shared by Rafa and Roger. BTW not surprisingly, Rafa did not win SI Sportsman of the Year, the honour win to New Orleans Saint QB Drew Brees.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 11:13 AM

that should be "went" not "win"

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 11:14 AM

For those interested: Pete's blog on espn.com on Fedal rivalry:

http://tinyurl.com/3a4drwq

Posted by temes 11/30/2010 at 11:14 AM

What's a FOOP?

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 11:15 AM

wilson75 - It really should be called SI US Sportsman of the Year...Wonder how often has a non-US athlete won the award?

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 11:15 AM

It's ok, G.

To me, Murray can be unbeatable if he gets his 1st serve % to about 60% per match. But that stat fluctuates between 40 to 50% for him, usually. Or at least improve the "action" and power on his 2nd serve - he made good progress on that regard at WTF.

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 11:17 AM

Wilson75,
Why am I not surprised about Brees winning SI. Brees did lead the Saints to the Super Bowl which gave the city of New Orleans a boost.

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 11:17 AM

Isn't FOOP kind of a euphemism for being Anti-Fedal in some ways? :)

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 11:18 AM

Arun,
I thought FOOP was anti-Fedal when the term was first used.

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 11:18 AM

So much word on the serve percentage, Arun. Can beat anybody when it's on. Can and will lose to everybody when it's not.

Sigh.

I didn't really notice his second serve improving - to be honest mainly I just scribbled notes like 'your second serve is a joke for a REASON, Andy' - but I was hardly watching in the most objective frame of mind.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/30/2010 at 11:19 AM

I had to ask who Drew Brees was...

Posted by temes 11/30/2010 at 11:19 AM

Oh really? More people should be FOOP and not POOP. :P

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 11:21 AM

TMFunk: So true. To answer your question, here's a link of all the SI Sportsman of the Year. I only recognise 3 as being non-American.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/specials/sportsman/archive/?eref=sihp

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 11:21 AM

Yes, but equal-opportunity anti-Fedal.

Maybe the term needs a reworking ...

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 11:21 AM

G: I remember Murray's 2nd serve being 75 mph lollypop landing in the center of the service box. At WTF, he consistently served at 90+ mph and even 100+ mph when he was fired up at crucial points. That was almost Berdych like - with a brain.

Posted by NP 11/30/2010 at 11:22 AM

Kids, Soderling ain't gonna go much further than he did this yr. Dude obviously has a big game, but his movement remains subpar and the long backswings ain't gonna help him a whole lot off clay and indoors. For comparison, his (soon-to-be-erstwhile) coach Norman had better movement and took shorter swings, with an equally heavy FH (but not as good a BH), but the best he could manage was a FO final and a Rome title (beating Guga in the final).

I understand this may not be a fair comparison 'cause Magnus' career was cut short by injuries, but he got those results in his best year (2000). You do the math.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 11:23 AM

temes FooP=fan of Other Players...

lol Gauloises...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 11:24 AM

Ruth,

Regarding WTF as a surface rotation...don't you think its unfair that indoor courts have no slam? Why is it only clay, grass and HCs?

A lot of fans enjoy indoor tennis...let there be atleast one big tournament indoors.

I hope the ATP does not remove the WTF from indoors. The indoors needs some big representation and its never going to get a slam for itself.

Why a rotation then? Let all the slams rotate in surfaces then.

Or let the indoors have the WTF. Its fair. Rotating the WTF is not fair.

Tennis players are supposed to be all-court players (atleast the top 10 players should be).

Too bad if they aren't. Not worthy of top 10 if they are not in my opinion.

And rotating the WTF means rotating the slams as well. Why is wimby played only on grass? How unfair. It should be played on indoors so that Nalbandin can at least show off his stuff once and win a prestigious event.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 11:24 AM

Interesting thoughts from Tic re the tiredness issue..and Or as well, reminding us that these YEC matches used to be 3/5.

Tic's post...and to a certain extent what Alex Coretja said.. reminded be a bit of the YEC of a couple of years again when Roger and Murray played an epic semi, (maybe it was a late stage RR - can't quite remember). As in the Rafa match, Murray absolutely killed himself, only this time he won. Fed had a bad back, he was getting on-court treatment, (yes! I rationalize too!), but hung on like grim death and they played 3 long sets. IIRC, the next day Murray got blown off the court by Djokovic.

Andy Murray - "He'll fall on his sword for you too!"

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 11:24 AM

MA: I agree. It's hard to disagree with SI's choice. It's a feel good story.

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 11:24 AM

Thanks wilson75. That was interesting. Surprised MJ was Sportsperson just once?

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 11:25 AM

Thanks Arun! That's encouraging. Now if he could only do it more than once a year ...

Posted by NP 11/30/2010 at 11:25 AM

Oh yeah, and Norman also took the ball very early, not quite at Agassi's level but well enough to take away his opponent's time even on clay.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 11:27 AM

"did we have to read endless pages about it like we do now?"
Tim, if you weren't talking about Rafa ad nauseum, we'd be on page 2 instead of page 9. :)"

Sherlock - ROFL!!

Posted by Sherlock 11/30/2010 at 11:28 AM

"I definitely want Murray to win a slam in 2011. More than Federer, at some levels."

Replace Fed with Nadal, and I'm right there with you, Arun. :)

I've already got my ticket for the Murray for AO '11 train.

2011, can that really be? Wasn't it just like 1990 or something? My head hurts now.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 11:31 AM

Going back to Ruth @ 10:37, totally second the thought on South Am getting a big tournament. Maybe not a 5th Slam, but at least a Masters.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 11:31 AM

CL: Just a slight correction, Murray lost in Masters Cup SF to Davydenko. He wanted to beat Roger so badly that he diminished his chances to win the whole thing. Seeing Murray being unable to move in that match made me realise how hard it is to beat Roger and why most players who beat him lose in the next round.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 11:32 AM

jewell - "Apparently Dimitrov pushed over a chair umpire the other day after losing to Ricardas Berankis."
Now if that isn't the surest indication that this kid is the next Federer, I don't know what is. Five years from now, people will be talking about how Dimitrov needs to show more emotion as he mows through the competition...

True! We will also read how he learned to master his emotions so he could master his many shots.

That is of course if he actually backs up his youthful talent and tantrums with some serious wining tennis.

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 11:34 AM

I think this off-season will be crucial for Murray. I'd be glad if he can specifically work on becoming a better "Tennis player" instead of trying to be a fitness phenom running on treadmill for 8 hours per day.

From the most matches I watch today, it seems like many young players aspire to become better athletes instead of improving/developing their tennis shot-making, patterns of play, etc.. Flaunting a 6-pack and huge arms somehow improves the image as a better tennis player. Probably this is the evolution of tennis or they are just somehow trying to take the inspiration from Nadal. Yes, Nadal is physically very stong, but he also improves as a tennis player each and every year, bringing something new to the table. Sadly, the other fitness freaks do only one of those 2 things right.

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 11:35 AM

*strong

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 11:36 AM

My comment at 11.24 am was directed to Jackson as well.

TMfunk, agreed.

On the tiredness issue, I applaud Jon W for managing to write a paragraph on the match, without mentioning the tiredness of both players (I think each player bragged enough about exhaustion to the media).

"So I am quite exhausted, but who cares?"

Amen, Roger.

Posted by Kwaku 11/30/2010 at 11:38 AM

As soon as line 5 of link above, Pete says "This match was critically important for a number of reasons".
Before I go on reading, it already looks as if he's going to say just about the opposite he said the last time he blogged here about it, namely that both could afford to lose the match so they could just let it roll and enjoy...
(I did not agree, by the way --I sent a post about there being a lot at stake).

Posted by NP 11/30/2010 at 11:43 AM

"I've already got my ticket for the Murray for AO '11 train."

Lock, you don't want your precious boy to hold 4 Slam trophies at the same time?

Posted by Federax 11/30/2010 at 11:44 AM

"Federax - isn't Frank Dancevic Canadian? I thought he had a good run a couple of seasons back..."
+++Freddy, again, a good run for Canadian standards. Dancevic is not exactly a young rookie either, so I don't hold my breath (but at least he gives a good effort all the time when I've seen him, which cannot be said of our Canadian "star" Aleksandra Wozniak which seem to think she's special or something... she's terrible!).

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 11:45 AM

wislon - thanks...yeah... i knew my memory of the exact players might be a bit wonky. But I still think the basic...uh,hem...'narrative' is accurate. ;-)

I never saw FOOP as anti-Fedal -more like a refuge FROM Fedal. Because there ARE other players out there and they DO have fans. Just that for much of the Fedal years, and even before, the spotlight has shown brightest on the guys winning the most, who were, Ta Da! - Fedal.

If Fed is out of a tournament I actually enjoy the remaining tennis in a different way from Roger playing ***winces to admit this**** because I am so much less nervous. As to who I root for, it is sort of day to day, match to match thing. Usually, but not always, it is who is perceived as the underdog. I don't know if I would have a fav to win the whole thing.

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 11:46 AM

*waves at Sherlock*

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 11:46 AM

he he kwaku, I think you are right. Oh well, not the first time, won't be the last that a journalist changes his/her tune before and after a match

Posted by NP 11/30/2010 at 11:48 AM

"If he isn't around either, perhaps Tomas Muster :)"

TMFunk, I know you were being facetious, but for the record Tomas got dusted by Goran in straights in a freakin' exhibition not too long ago. I really don't see Muster going very far in his comeback. This is a guy whose game relied more on his fitness than almost any other player. Once that's gone, you be gone.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 11:50 AM

Right now...hide your eyes Roger... I am searching the horizon looking for the next guy I would really like to cheer for. So far, w/out a lot of success. Of all the players I have seen recently, the one I have enjoyed watching the most is Robin Haase. But don't know if he can stay un-injured.

And indeed, WILL there be anyone coming along who can actually challenge Rafa on clay? Maybe not til we get to the 'aged' Rafa stage.

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 11:51 AM

NP - Yeah, I know...I was being facetious... :)

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 11:54 AM

CL: True. Sometimes the topics about Fed and Nadal can be tiresome for folks whose #1 fave is neither of those guys. I was really half-joking re FOOP being the euphemism for being Anti-Fedal. Though there may or may not be various levels of FOOPdom, no? Just like how there are various levels of Fed fandom and Nadal fandom.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 11:56 AM

NP - I've always thought Muster was the prototype for Rafa..of course, Rafa's game has many more strengths and subtleties, but the basics - strength, speed, fitness and topspin lefty were all there...

Posted by Kwaku 11/30/2010 at 11:56 AM

Gauloises, it looks you can really become a professional journalist like Pete Bodo himself. Look at the kind of consistency you are developing:

10:56 AM --"But it's out there in the language now living in its own life. So ... who knows?"

11:05 AM --"You are not a FOOP if you root for one of Fedal when they play a supposed other favourite of yours. Sorry, but that's how it is."

;-)

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 11:57 AM

Arun - indeed..sometimes I think FOOP is a kind of shield against Fedal.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 11:58 AM

kwaku - good catch...I too, posted a point by point rebuttal of Pete's position re WTF, but it got swallowed

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 11:59 AM

Aren’t I delightfully self-contradictory, Kwaku? :) In fairness the second time I was talking to jewell, and I tend to presume that our acquaintance gives me the right to tease her mercilessly.

Posted by NP 11/30/2010 at 12:01 PM

freddy, yeah, Muster was probably the best defensive grinder between the Borg and Rafa eras. Like you just said, though, Muster didn't have any outstanding weapons. Don't be fooled by the groans--his shots SOUNDED powerful, but players like Guga had in fact much more firepower.

But yes, at his peak he was a monster. One of the fittest and mentally toughest guys ever. And he even managed to flatten out his serve later in his career. Sounds too much like Rafa, I know.

BTW the topspin part better applies to Bruguera, probably the only guy who could hit as much spin and power as Rafa on clay.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 12:02 PM

CL,

I don't think there is anyone to challenge Rafa on clay for next 2-3 years. I think he passes Borg's record for six (though it won't be consecutive) easily.

Then wins I think he wins straight till 2012 or something...then its sets up a huge upset scenario. It has to be some teenager...Muzz is absolutely useless in that role, Djokovic...might fill in those shoes actually...Fed, absolutely not..he had his chances when he was 24,25,26,27...second tier players..impossible.

It has to be somebody we don't know actually. Somebody unknown. Probably dosen't even play pro tennis right now.

Ofcourse, the most ironical scenario would be Fed defeating Rafa at RG at 30. Most rich in irony.

However, that dosen't even have 0.000001% chance of happening.

Incidently, Rafa has never won RG as the #1 ranked player. And neither did the Fed. They were both #2 every time it happened.

However, i think that changes next year.

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 12:04 PM

Kwaku - he he...I see it more as Gauloises thought about opening up for interpretation the acronym she invented in her 10:56, but by 11:05 she was thinking, heck no! This is MY acronym and it shall be defined on MY terms! :)

btw - Anyone listen to the latest podcast reviewing the final yet? Maybe its just me, but it sounded like a group mourning for Rafa's loss. :) At one point someone brought up Fed's backhand in the match and very quickly someone else (I think Tignor) said yeah, but I'm sure Nadal will find a way around that, almost as if assuring himself. I was a bit amused by the tone of the podcast. But like I said, maybe it was just me hearing words through the filter of my fed-fan colored hearing aid.

Posted by zenggi 11/30/2010 at 12:04 PM

I'm a FOOP too besides the obvious fandom of all things Roger. Mostly because I like tennis, I like other players as well.

Gauloises,
"I’m curious to know what effect the split with Magnus will have on Robin – frankly, if Magnus broke up with me, I’d die of a broken heart. We’ll see if Robin’s made of sterner stuff." My sentiments exactly.
Is Magnus going to marry? Is Robin going to be a TW favorite at last? Is he going to be coached by Johansson or Bjorkman? Questions, questions.

I'd love for Robin Haase to win a Master somewhere on any surface in 2011.
I may have my dreams, right? Seriously I pray that he's done with injuries.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 12:06 PM

And I don't think Del Potro can do it either...

Posted by Ruth 11/30/2010 at 12:06 PM

"a) A rivalry is judged by the sum total of career accomplishments, of which H2H is one factor...."


Oh, I'm so glad you said at, TMFunk, because that is how I characterize rivalries or the word "rivalry." And I'm sure that was the context that Hannah was using when she wrote what she did in her last post about the Rafa & Roger rivalry -- causing several KADS to go all hissy fit on us they quoted, over and over, the 2-2 R&R H2H since 2008, something that even the most casual fan probably already knew.

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 12:06 PM

ladyjulia - Here's how its going to go down - Fed unveils his new two-handed backhand at the start of FO 2011, specially tailored for Rafa on clay, and it changes everything... :)

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 12:07 PM

NP - I really liked Bruguera's game...that FO final against Courier was one of the best matches I've ever seen..Courier was the favorite going in (def champion, if I'm not mistaken), and they slugged it out over 5 sets...Bruguera also had a very good serve - extremely accurate.

I'm still thinking about the need for a South Am Masters. At least Asia has the Shanghai Masters, and Tokyo...when was the last time you saw top players at a South Am event? And South Am has given us so many really good players in the last 20 years, more so than Asia...so why doesn't it happen?

Posted by gauloises 11/30/2010 at 12:12 PM

zenggi - Bjorkman and Soderling would be such an amazing odd couple! I'd love that. Magnus can go and coach Murray, just to keep him in my life :)

Has anybody seen Jonas recently? I felt like he was at the o2, but I might have been imagining him.

Posted by Sherlock 11/30/2010 at 12:12 PM

"Lock, you don't want your precious boy to hold 4 Slam trophies at the same time?"

NP, he he. Good question. :) All four at the same time would be cool, no doubt. But it's worth much more to me now for Andy to get rid of the slam goose egg. I want to see how things take off for him once he gets over the hump.

Hi, Arun!!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 12:13 PM

Ruth,

But that statement wouldn't be accurate even from the sum total of career accomplishments. Because she used the word, since Wimbledon 2008.

Since, Wimbledon 2008...

Rafa has won gold at olympics in singles
Rafa won AO 2009 for first time
Rafa won RG for fifth time (not consecutive)
Rafa won Wimby for second time (not consecutive)
Rafa won USO first time, career slam (youngest),and 3 slams on three different surfaces (only player record)
Rafa made 3 slam finals in 2010
Rafa ended YE #1 in 2008,2010

Roger won gold at olympics in doubles
Roger won USO fifth time (consecutive)
Roger won RG for first time, career slam
Roger won Wimbledon,sixth time (not consecutive),breaking Sampras all-time mark for majors
Roger made 4 slam finals in 2009
Roger ended YE#1 in 2009
Roger won AO for fourth time (not consecutive)

So, how would the statement that the rivarly was a one-way traffic after Wimby 2008 be accurate from that point of view?? I think TMFunk was right in his argument the first time he brought it up.
Roger won WTF 2010 (fifth time, not consecutive)

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 12:15 PM

Ruth - agree with you and TMFunk re sum total of career accomplishments.

Still don't think it provides justification for Gauloises' "one-way traffic" line since Wimbly 2008..

Since Wimbly 2008, Rafa Slams = 4; Roger Slams = 4. Both completed their Career Slams.
Rafa won a few more Masters than Roger, also Olympic Gold; Roger won another YEC...
And HTH = 2-2.
Not that big a diff.. Fact is Roger took 2009, and Rafa took 2010.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 12:17 PM

I see ladyjulia got there ahead of me, and much more comprehensively :) And I forgot the Olympic doubles gold

Posted by zenggi 11/30/2010 at 12:18 PM

Gauloises,
Bjorkman and Johansson where in London during the adieu ceremony of Carlos Moya. Not that I saw everything because I was crying...

Bjorkman would "lose" Robin quite a bit. Maybe he could learn to volley properly.

And I'm not giving my permission for Magnus to coach Murray. Sorry. I like for Magnus to keep his lovely smiling face for a while.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 12:19 PM

The only way her statement makes sense (Gauloises, sorry for visceral back and forth on that statement...but we love to throw out Fedal stats when we can)...is if you consider 6-2 which is H2H summed up from end of 2007 to now.

Posted by freddy 11/30/2010 at 12:19 PM

"And I don't think Del Potro can do it either..."

Actually, I thought Del Potro would have been the man this year. He's got the game to take it to Rafa, even on clay. He was scary good in the SF against Roger at FO 2009, and with his first Slam under the belt, who knows what he might have done.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 12:21 PM

TMFunk - is your hearing aid non rose colored? ;-)) Hey, Steve T is a self outing Rafa fan, (though he has certainly said a lot of positive things about Fed and many other players...I am just feeling SO magnanimous today...****pats self on back***), that I really wouldn't be surprise to hear him casting about a bit. And who knows, he may be right...but then Fed will counteract whatever Rafa does with something else, and on they will dance til we all drop.

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