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Rock Stars For a Week 11/25/2010 - 11:38 PM

Bb by Hannah Wilks, TennisWorld Contributing Writer

Numbers are a big part of any tennis fan's life, and there’s always a day at the year-end championship when the numbers take centre stage. Last year, Andy Murray was denied a place in the semifinals by an abstract mathematical calculation, a del Potro second-serve ace and a Hawkeye challenge; a matter of millimetres and the progress of the championships was altered. This year, Murray is ranked No. 5 and back at the O2 among the elite; del Potro, last year’s finalist, played six matches in 2010 and is currently ranked No. 262 due to the vagaries of injury. Sometimes numbers do tell the whole story.

It’s clear today that the organizers here at the ATP World Tour Finals have learned from the embarrassments of last year. Everywhere, the big screens flash group standings and qualification scenarios for the crowds; the media are handed briefing notes updating the latest outcomes and possibilities at regular intervals. Permutations and probabilities are bandied back and forth at the bar, on the stairs, in whispers inside the arena. It starts to feel like a drinking game (sponsored by Corona, of course)Soderling took it to a tiebreak: two fingers! Murray won more than four games in a set: down in one!

As it turns out, however, everybody might as well have left their calculators at home, as the Group B progressions were settled by the simplest of eventualities; Roger Federer defeated Robin Soderling 7-6 (5), 6-3 in a majestic defensive display, leaving himself in solitary state as the first player to qualify for the semifinals. The Swede is eliminated from contention and heading home for the holidays, with the second semifinal spot to be decided between Andy Murray and David Ferrer. The consensus is that Murray has to win a set, or win a minimum of seven games in losing. It sounds simple, but when is anything with the Scot ever as straightforward as it should be?

It turns out you can’t even depend on Murray to be undependable. He starts off in woeful fashion by losing serve, but before anyone can hunker down for a long night, he recovers and doesn’t look back, winning not just the first set but the second to book his semifinal spot. David Ferrer leaves London without winning a match, Murray gets to experience a semifinal Saturday at the O2, and everyone’s left with rather an anticlimactic feeling.

But the most interesting numbers of the day for me are the ones that come up in the Bryan brothers’ press conference, after the twins have sealed their qualification for the semifinals by beating Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes in straight sets, afterwards being presented with the ATP fans’ favorite award. Their numbers in 2010 tell their own story: two Grand Slams, in Melbourne and New York. Their 600th match win in Delray Beach. The sixth time they have finished the year ranked No. 1. Their 62nd championship win in L.A., surpassing the all-time career titles record. Those are GOAT numbers, even if they have to be marginally qualified with the insertion of' 'team.'

Having accomplished all of this, there’s a sad inevitability to the main thrust of the questionsthe health of the doubles game. Usually, it’s the aging of the viewer demographic that is the concern, not the participants. But the average age of the players in this year’s draw is 32, as opposed to 26 in the singles; the youngest player in the doubles draw is the 26-year-old Philipp Petzchner, a relative baby next to 39-year-old Dick Norman. The oldest player in the singles is Federer at 29 and the draw includes two 23-year-olds, Murray and Djokovic. A Bryan (I can’t tell them apart when they’re not holding their racquets) acknowledges the problem: These 20 guys are the same guys we’ve been playing against for the last 10 years. We’re all still at the top of the game. There aren’t a lot of guys breaking through. It’s being repopulated by singles players. It used to be the Top 50 guys used to have two or three singles players in it. Now it’s half and half.

Think about that for a minute. Then name, if you can, one successful doubles specialist who is under 25 and who promises much for the future. It’s easy to dismiss doubles, an attitude that I’ve been guilty of myself; it’s an opportunity to see more of your favourite singles players, perhaps, or a way to kill time while you’re waiting for some real action to begin. I’ve had the opportunity this week to watch the best playing the best, and yet until today, the most attention I’ve paid to the top seeds is to enjoy the slo-mo replay of Mike getting hit in the back of the head with Bob’s serve. Or possibly the other way around.

Doubles doesn’t just require discipline; it is a discipline. Jurgen Melzer, No. 11 in the world, teamed with a solid singles player in Petzchner, still found himself eliminated today by Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. Nobody’s going to stop the latter team in the street, but they are masters of their sport and the specific skills it rewards. Power from the baseline can accomplish much, but it can still be rendered impotent by the cool head and practiced hands required to finish a point at the net. How different might today’s singles results have been had Robin Soderling had the split-second confidence to put away Federer’s high, floating ball?

It may all too often be treated as an encumbrance at worst, a consolation prize at bestnot a lot of kids growing up wanting to be the best in the world in doubles, as even said best players admitbut if doubles as an end in itself dies, to be replaced by singles players supplementing their incomes and match play, something will be lost. Not just the particular skills of serve and volley, familiarity and precision at net, but a sport that rewards eccentricity and uniqueness, the coming together of two players that separately would have been very ordinary to become something greater than the sum of their parts.

Any commenter or commentator is familiar with those who lament tennis’ increasing homogeneity; they should watch more doubles. Yesterday, a day that saw public complaints from one singles player about the time his opponent was taking in order to be physically able to continue the match, I witnessed Max Miyrni bending down to the ground to chat to his partner Mahesh Bhupathi while he received medical attention, folding his angular limbs to put their heads close together. Their opponents, meanwhile, the soon-to-split Nestor and Zimonjic, were as far apart as two players could be, Nestor slumping in a chair shrouded in towels while Zimonjic took energetic practice swings at the far end of the court. Talk about the range of human experience. And today, I’m listening to two people I’ve often derided talk with warmth and a total lack of self-pity about the senescence of the sport they have dedicated their life to, the sport that has made them extraordinary. 

That at least is one thing that the World Tour Finals has going for it, despite the occasional limpness of the round-robin format. I haven’t seen the arena less than two-thirds full for a doubles match this week; they’ve been cheered, slow-clapped, bemoaned, had their names chanted. There’s nothing like it, a Bryan says; when you have intros, smoke, lights, music, you have goosebumps … We feel like rock stars.

To be treated like stars one week out of fifty-two isn’t the best ratio, but for a team who have broken the greatest of records, it’s a lot better than none.


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Posted by ladyjulia 11/26/2010 at 09:11 AM

jackson,

Its true that Rafa has not just burst onto the scene..but he has always been his Fed's shadow.

Its not fair..but its only because the Fed came first and is a current legend. If the ages were reversed, it would be Fed in Rafa's shadow right now. Rafa started out as a Fed beater, though his fans may not agree..but he made his name by knocking Fed out of tournaments. He had to beat Fed in all the GS he won until this year. Their narrative was unfortunately tied together that way. It carried tennis for years.

As Fed winds down, he is going to get the attention that a legend does...crowds will cheer out of sympathy and memories, writers will write about fading glory and mull about how the once invincible player faces his own mortality and age.

As I said, Rafa...going in as favorite for all of next year's slams...the narrative will mostly focus on him. Even his sneezes will get paragraphs. I think next year Rafa's narrative might pull away from Fed a bit..but i doubt if it will be too much. I don't see it happening until the Fed starts losing early in tournaments. The Fed dosen't have to completely retire..just not being a favorite will help focus the narrative completely on Rafa.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/26/2010 at 09:11 AM

Hey GB!

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/26/2010 at 09:11 AM

GB, I didn't catch the whole explanation, but my commentators said that Djokovich had accidentally put two contacts in one eye and one had gotten lodged in his eyelid. Haven't heard if there is any lingering damage.

Posted by mg 11/26/2010 at 09:11 AM

Thanks GB! I'm always impressed by how geographically diverse this board is. It helps to know that other people lose sleep for tennis as well (the Australian Open is especially brutal to watch on West Coast time).

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:12 AM

GB Jason was just talking about Nole and he said he hopes he will be okay.

Lilscot I hear our Song

Give Me Shelter? I have seen the Stones live 3 times.One of my fav groups

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:12 AM

So what are the "numbers" in this match? What do they both have to do in order to get to semis? I really can't keep up with all this lol.

Posted by Ruth 11/26/2010 at 09:13 AM

Come on, ladyjulia (@8:53).... When have you heard Rafa say that "he's not going to win" or had no chance? Underdog, yes. Loser, no.

jackson: I think I like your idea that Murray was just doing a little leg-pulling of the media. Or, I'd just prefer to believe that since I like the young man and never ever saw him as a being a defeatist until I read those quoted words today.

Yes, I'm going to believe that either MAnd was misquoted or he was having a little fun with te media hounds. :-)

Posted by lilscot 11/26/2010 at 09:14 AM

AM:

I hear it marg, I hear it! I've got my Valium I.V. drip all hooked up and my bottle of Absolute on the desk. All ready now! :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:14 AM

MG Are you from WA? Welcome we are from Sydney

Holds 2 Love Hi, thanks for that info regarding Nole.Ouch 2 contacts in one eye?

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:15 AM

Definitely diverse mg. The AO's like the only tourney that's conducive to normal hours for me.

I have serious frazzle about this match, wilson75.

Thanks Holds 2 love. Such an unfortunate, freak thing. I know absolutely nothing about contacts or what it means to be wearing 2 in the 1 eye (!) but hopefully it's ok now.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/26/2010 at 09:16 AM

Ruth and Jackson...i don't remember...but he always claimed that he wasn't the favorite in the match..which I interpreted as that the favorite is going to win (that's what favorite means) which directly implies that Rafa is not going to win.

Since they are only two people playing. That was my interpretation. I don't remember his exact words...but as far as i remember, he always said the Fed would win..which meant that he wouldn't.

Posted by x-fan 11/26/2010 at 09:16 AM

Ladyjulia,
I agree with both you and Wilson. I also think that if Nadal continues to dominate we will hear fans of newer or upcoming players complaining about all the coverage given to Nadal. It goes with the territory.
At the same time though, writers/bloggers are just like the rest of us and have their preferences and it's not surprising that they tend to write more or more favorable about their own favorites even while trying to be as objective as possible.

Wilson,
This is again a case in which I understand what Murray was trying to do but he could have shown a little more spirit without appearing too confident. I guess it's a difficult balance to reach.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:16 AM

Lilscot Hell at least at this stage I have never had a drip?

Good thinking though if you kind of de hydrate in one of Rafa's matches lol!

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:16 AM

it's beyond confusing temes. In true KAD fashion, I only know that Rafa has to win a set.

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:17 AM

Berdy starting out well.

Posted by mg 11/26/2010 at 09:17 AM

AM: Northern CA actually. Though Seattle is one of my favorite cities.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/26/2010 at 09:17 AM

Hi AM, yes, I've never worn contacts, but I can imagine that if you found one contact floating around you wouldn't understand why you could still feel something foreign in your eye. Berdych holds.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:18 AM

Lets face it Murray is a whinger lol!

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:18 AM

That was a good start by Berdy. Frazzle. Please hold here, Rafa!

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:19 AM

Yup, frazzle definitely going up

Posted by x-fan 11/26/2010 at 09:19 AM

Jackson,
No problem. I really understand where you are coming from and in my years of lurking I've never thought or gotten the idea that Pete goes out of his way to write about Rafa while Steve tends to do it quite often.

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:20 AM

GB, yeah. But thanks for the little info anyway. Let me go figure out Berdy's chances lol.

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:20 AM

Frazzle

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:20 AM

MG Oops sorry.I guess my brain and eye etc havent clicked on as yet its just gone 1.00am here.I did welcome you here yesterday.Glad to see you dont Lurk anymore.

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:21 AM

Crap:(((( I really wish Rafa could have played Berdy in the first match!

Posted by x-fan 11/26/2010 at 09:21 AM

Ok my posts were in response to posts in the previous page so they may appear a bit disjointed now :)

On to this match though, Berdych playing well and using the right tactics so far.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:21 AM

Well I see the tactics of Tomas early and he is executing his plan well

Rafa?

Posted by ladyjulia 11/26/2010 at 09:22 AM

Besides, this is what Murray said...he dosen't use the expression that he is going to lose..

"I'm going to be playing against someone like Rafa. I'll try and win but I'm not sure I've got a whole lot of chance if I play him. I've watched his matches here. He's been playing unbelievably well. I don't seem to beat those guys in the big matches. I need to do it in a big match, in the semis. I have to see whether I can do that or not. Am I confident? No, not really." - Andy Murray

All he is saying that he is going to see if he can do it..and he isn't really confident about doing it given that Rafa is playing unbelievably well.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/26/2010 at 09:22 AM

Nadal with an ace facing BP

Posted by x-fan 11/26/2010 at 09:23 AM

Good save there by Nadal to get back to deuce.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/26/2010 at 09:24 AM

hello mg, recently de-lurked myself. NorCal is beautiful. and Nadal holds.

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:24 AM

So basically I gather Berdy has decent chances of reaching semis even if he loses in 3 sets, though much depends on Andy-Novak outcome.

Posted by Master Ace 11/26/2010 at 09:24 AM

15-40 for Tomas as he came forward to hit volley winner after running Rafael side to side
30-40 Rafael FH winner
40-40 Rafael Ace at T
A-40 Tomas nets FH
Rafael holds as Tomas BH sails wide

Tomas to serve 1-all

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:24 AM

Robbie and Jason in full fawning mode. I'm sorry to say but Rafa is not going to win SI Sportsman of year.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:24 AM

Lasdyjulia Murray on a hard court against Rafa has a good chance to win.

Rafa needs to change his tactics.Actually Injimmy and I were saying the very same thing yesterday.We shall see.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:27 AM

wilson75 LOL!

Both Jason and Robbie have their Rafa hats and eyes on at the moment

Robbie said Rafa was Petry in Motion? hey I have said that of Roger and he glides up the forecourt.

I cant see Rafa winning the SI either.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/26/2010 at 09:27 AM

Morning all :

Looks like Berdy is going to fight hard - but I think Rafa will too, he wants to qualify.

Posted by jackson 11/26/2010 at 09:28 AM

"Its true that Rafa has not just burst onto the scene..but he has always been his Fed's shadow."

Oh c'mon now lj. That's a Fed is the GOAT comment if I ever heard one and it's that kind of attitude that gets under the skin of some Rafa fans. If being the youngest man in 40 years to achieve a career slam and the only won to win consecutive slams on three different surfaces, on top of being #1 for months and months and months isn't enough to have the light shine on him far away from Fed's shadow, then I don't know what would be. Federer is not the best in the world any more. Rafa is. He is not in Fed's shadow any more and shouldn't be treated as if he is.

Posted by x-fan 11/26/2010 at 09:28 AM

Or we could get a Roger v Rafa semifinal, who knows?
I doubt Fed would come out and say he's not confident in that case ;-)

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:29 AM

AM: I can't stand it when the commentators are fawning over any player, even Federer. It's just gets on my nerves. I'm close to putting the TV on mute.

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:30 AM

And Berdy again wins the 1st pt on Rafa's serve:((

Posted by lilscot 11/26/2010 at 09:30 AM

Nothing wrong with a little commentator slobbering. So what if they're fans of Rafa? A lot of people are. Bring on the slobber because tennis careers don't last long.

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:30 AM

More like Fed is the sun and Rafa is the eclipse. lol

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:32 AM

jackson: yes, Rafa is the best in the world.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:32 AM

temes LOL!

Wilson75 I agree.I mean commentators to me have to be objective

I think Robbie after a Rafa match takes a long cold shower at times

Posted by TMFunk 11/26/2010 at 09:33 AM

wrt Murray's weird comments - he was either:

a) Trying to call Rafa's usual uber-humble pre-match comments and raise them or
b) He was in one of those moods where you just want to say something completely unexpected and see what the reaction is

Just no way that the #4, #5 player in the world makes comments like that to be taken at face value...

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:33 AM

lilscot I hope you dont mean Rafa wont be having a long career lol!

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:33 AM

lilscot: It's okay that you like it. I'm just saying I don't.

Posted by Ruth 11/26/2010 at 09:34 AM

lj: I'm no sports linguist or lexicographer, but I think that your interpretation of the meaning of "favorite" in the sports context is a bit off. :-)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:34 AM

Murray is just playing Head Games

Most players do it lol!

Posted by Jay 11/26/2010 at 09:34 AM

Good morning all. I hope that those who celebrated Thankgiving did so with gusto.

Before running back to the Nadal Berdych score, I just want to add that I thought that one thing that made doubles more interesting this year was the relatively new team of Bopanna/Quereshi (not sure of the spelling).

I saw them in D.C. at the Legg Mason & at the US Open. Aside from the curiosity of an Indian playing with a Pakistani, they were great. As a team, they made great strides this year, beating even the Bryans, I believe, at some tourney or other. No small feat. I'm not sure of their ages, but I presume that they will be around for some time. Too bad that they did not make this last tournament. I imagine that both of their nations are well represented in London, which might have energized the arena even more.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:35 AM

Good early return Rafa on the b/hand too about time we saw that more often

Come On

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:36 AM

Breaking here would be a good idea, Rafa!

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:36 AM

AM: I agree Murray is playing mind games. How can anyone believe that Murray doesn't feel he has a chance against Rafa?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:37 AM

Great shot Tomas down the line

Posted by x-fan 11/26/2010 at 09:37 AM

I guess it was just a matter of time Nadal figured out Berdych's tactics.
Good point there by Berdych though!

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:37 AM

:((((

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:38 AM

Hmmm Rafa back to deuce?

Posted by x-fan 11/26/2010 at 09:38 AM

GB
Don't dispair, early goings still :)

Good to see Berdych holding his own under pressure.

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:38 AM

Impressive breakpoint saving from both.

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:39 AM

k. Keep holding, Rafa!

Posted by Master Ace 11/26/2010 at 09:39 AM

15-40 for Rafael as he hit CC BH passing shot for winner as Tomas hit BH DTL and comes forward
30-40 Rafael nets stab volley after Tomas got FH and hit FH passing shot DTL
40-40 Rafael FH return long
A-40 Rafael FH return long as Tomas served at T
Tomas holds as Rafael FH return sails wide

Rafael to serve 2-3

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/26/2010 at 09:39 AM

Terrific pass from Berdych to save that first break point.

Posted by gauloises 11/26/2010 at 09:39 AM

I saw a lot of Indian fans out for Paes and Bhupathi, certainly.

The Bryans did mention Bopanna and Quireshi (I can't spell that either), saying that they were an exciting team and definitely would be in the top 8 next year. They're not young either, though, I remember looking up their ages last night and they're both late '20s.

Would be lovely to see them in London next year.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:39 AM

Good 2nd serve Tomas

Good hold Tomas

Rafa you were looking at soo many 2nd serves there? should have broken.


Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:41 AM

LOL x-fan, the frazzle can't be contained.

Posted by crazyone 11/26/2010 at 09:41 AM

Bopanna and Qureshi are both 30, which is young for doubles players these days but "old" by tennis standards in general.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/26/2010 at 09:41 AM

BTW, I would hate to see doubles discontinued ... heck, it's tennis, isn't it ?

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/26/2010 at 09:41 AM

Berdych saved a BP in style there. Then went on to take it, 3-2 on serve. Hi Jay, thanks for your comments on Bopanna/Qureshi, 2010 winners of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. Thanks also to Hannah on her Numbers/Doubles post. Really interesting stuff. Would like to see her Drop Shot Index become a regular stat category. ;-)

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) 11/26/2010 at 09:42 AM

Thanks for the info Tina! BTW, have you heard anything more about Nole's eye?
----------------

No, I haven't - Serbian news sites aren't talking about it (maybe due to superstition) and Croatian sites are completely biased. When I see accusations of bias on TW, I always ROFLMAO.

I'd check Twitter, etc., but if there's a lingering problem with contacts, I doubt it's something he'd want to broadcast before playing Roddick. It's always a bit of a grudge match between those two, Novak doesn't want to give RAndy any ammunition.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:43 AM

Why do players wear caps when they are indoors?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:44 AM

Tina Thanks for that info on Novak.I hope he will be ok.

Posted by mg 11/26/2010 at 09:45 AM

Holds 2 Love: good to meet another lurker.

"That's a Fed is the GOAT comment if I ever heard one and it's that kind of attitude that gets under the skin of some Rafa fans."

As a Rafa fan can I just admit that I really appreciate the Fed shadow. Before I fell in love with Rafa's game, I really just fell in love with the fact that at in Miami in 2005 he stood up to Fed. Although I'd been rooting for Fed to realize his potential, by 2005 I was ready for a rivalry.

Since I fell in love with Rafa as an underdog, there's still a part of me that enjoys Fed being there as the standard. I also think it keeps him honest.

I guess the more important reason I enjoy the continued Fed presence is that it legitimizes Rafa. For some reason I suspect that if Roger was not around some of Rafa's accomplishments would be questioned. E.g. "did he benefit from a generation with weak competition?" Every time an article is written about Fed's brilliance it makes me realize how awesome it is that Rafa is winning slams in this era.

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:46 AM

AM: I think they get so accustomed to wearing a cap that they feel naked playing without it.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:46 AM

Rafa keep those returns Low? come on think

Posted by Jay 11/26/2010 at 09:47 AM

Thanks Gauloises and crazyone for the follow-up.

By the way, I continue to enjoy your articles, Hannah.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:47 AM

Another missed chance Rafa?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:48 AM

Bad luck Tomas there?

Okay Rafa keep pushing

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:49 AM

Too good Tomas well done

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/26/2010 at 09:49 AM

Berdych with a volley even I could have gotten to and Nadal punishes him for it. But Berdych holds, 4-3 on serve

Posted by Master Ace 11/26/2010 at 09:49 AM

40-40 Rafael gets to volley and hit CC FH for winner
A-40 Tomas service winner wide
Tomas holds as he hit FH winner

Rafael to serve 3-4

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:49 AM

I must admit Berdych is playing very well so far. I still think Rafa will win.

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:49 AM

Very impressive hitting from Berdych I wonder what was up with him in the Novak match he is like a different person.

Posted by gauloises 11/26/2010 at 09:50 AM

I was wondering about the cap thing too - seriously, does it help with the lights? They're amazingly bright.

Posted by AO OPEN 11/26/2010 at 09:50 AM

Come on Berdych!

Posted by wilson75 11/26/2010 at 09:51 AM

temes: He said he was very nervous in the first match.

Posted by lilscot 11/26/2010 at 09:51 AM

I never said I like the commentators raving about a player. I just said that I didn't mind it. That's what mute buttons are for. I was just saying that during a nice competitive match I block the commies out and enjoy the tennis. I can complain all I want after the match. If it was a boring match I can see wandering off and thinking about how the talking heads are annoying, etc.

For now, for me, I choose just to enjoy the tennis. There's already enough negativity in the world. :)

Posted by temes 11/26/2010 at 09:52 AM

wilson75, that's understandable it's his first WTF afterall I think. He has done a great job turning it around.

Posted by Master Ace 11/26/2010 at 09:53 AM

4-all Nadal 12-3 W/UFEs

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:54 AM

not only is it Berdy's first WTF, but he was coming in with zero momentum after a disastrous post Wimby season

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:54 AM

Good service game Rafa

Your 1st serve percentage stats much improved in this match good to see

You have only lost 5 points on serve.

Posted by lilscot 11/26/2010 at 09:54 AM

Wow, what an impressive game by Rafa there. Let's keep up that aggressive form my man. Tomas looking a little shell-shocked after that game. Do I hear Sympathy for the Devil on the loudspeakers? :)

Posted by jackson 11/26/2010 at 09:54 AM

"I guess the more important reason I enjoy the continued Fed presence is that it legitimizes Rafa. For some reason I suspect that if Roger was not around some of Rafa's accomplishments would be questioned. E.g. "did he benefit from a generation with weak competition?" Every time an article is written about Fed's brilliance it makes me realize how awesome it is that Rafa is winning slams in this era."

Good point mg. Rafa can never be accused of winning his titles in a weak era.


Is anyone else watching the match on Bet365? Is it working well for you? My stream is really choppy but I'm not sure if it's my crappy old computer or the source.

Posted by Jay 11/26/2010 at 09:55 AM

Holds 2 Love: Thanks for reminding us of the Humanitarian award. That they are playing together at all is a noteworthy accomplishment, but I have a feeling that in the future, they may be more known for their excellent playing.

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) 11/26/2010 at 09:56 AM

Hey, Gauloises changed the title of this post since I last refreshed. Speaking of being "rock stars", another reason some might wear caps indoors is the very "rawk" lighting of this venue - those lights seem particularly bright without throwing off much ambient light outside the court area.

Isn't today the day of the Annie/Jewell/Hannah meet-up? I'm assuming Annie is in the O2 right now.

I'm glad this match isn't a blow-out. Tomas's maiden trip to the WTF and all.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:56 AM

Rafa step up good time to break 4 games all

Posted by ladyjulia 11/26/2010 at 09:57 AM

Ruth,

Okay..fine...my interpretation of favorite is wrong.

jackson,

As i said, Rafa has begun to cement his legacy this year..the fawning will start very soon...its already started among the commentators etc..soon the writers will start it full throttle too.

"That's a Fed is the GOAT comment if I ever heard one and it's that kind of attitude that gets under the skin of some Rafa fans."

I don't subscribe to the GOAT argument. Most illogical thing if i ever saw one..given how tennis has no structure and uniformity across eras.

What I meant by shadow is that Fed is the older legend who is currently still playing. You can't reverse the fact that Fed is the older legend who is still active.

There are only two legends in the game right now...Rafa and Fed...they are going to be compared to each other...whether Fed fans and Rafa fans like it or not. There is a reason why their exhibition tickets sell out in 2 minutes. Its because they carried tennis together.

Until the Fed stops being a favorite for tournaments...Rafa is not going to get all the ink for himself. The writers write about the contenders for the titles. Rafa gets ink and Fed shares the ink. When Rafa dominates and is the clear favorite, nobody will bother writing about the Fed when he isn't a contender.


Ofcourse, Fed isn't the best player in the world anymore...but he's still winning titles...people still pick him to win the big titles..so Rafa has to share the limelight unfortunately.

He might be #1...but it seems to me from what i read..that he isn't the clear favorite. He might have 3 slams this year...but people are picking Fed to win the WTF. It surprises me ofcourse..I would think the #1 player has set himself apart...but writers don't think he is apart yet. He may have been months and months at #1...but there is another player in the field who has been years and years at #1.

Like I said...they both have to share the limelight. Comparisons are inevitable in their legacies as of now. Its not fair to Fed..and its not fair to Rafa. But they both have no choice in the matter.

Posted by lilscot 11/26/2010 at 09:58 AM

Man, Rafa has got to do more with those second serves for crying out loud. (increases the I.V. drip...)

Posted by GB 11/26/2010 at 09:58 AM

Well, I hope he's ok and that he qualifies, Tina.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 09:58 AM

Rafa you were looking at a second serve?

Lame

Honestly that former b/.hand return too? geez.

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