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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 @work 11/26/2010 at 01:16 PM

I can't believe I missed it all!! The match, the controversy!

Rafa got mad?!! Oh well I still blame it on this WTF tournament ;-)

So it's Murray tomorrow and he's pretending he has no chance... we gonna see, no?

Posted by Syd 11/26/2010 at 01:16 PM

Andrew but he didn't get on with the match. That's the whole point. The chair umpire was not good enough for him, he had to involve Tom Barnes; he tried to claim that he did not call the ball out, when clearly, he did so. He was incensed and acting out and raving like a man possessed. (quite different than pissed-off Federer sitting in the chair on a changeover and saying "shit."
Whether it was intentional or not, his tirade had the effect of successfully disrupting Berdych's momentum.

"It just shows the referee is probably scared of him and just let him talk too long," said Berdych."I mean, it's not the mistake of Rafa, it's the mistake of the referee. He just needed to show him that it's not like he can do whatever he wants on the court.
"It was just a normal call so I don't know why he was taking so long." - Berdych

Posted by Kristy 11/26/2010 at 01:16 PM

Oh okay, I now gather I missed the whole thing - Rafa had a meltdown against Berd?

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:18 PM

So basically Berdych is blaming the umpire?

I hope I can watch a replay of the whole 'ordeal' later...

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/26/2010 at 01:20 PM

exactly! no one ever stands up to Nadal, good for Birdbrain ...

"It just shows the referee is probably scared of him and just let him talk too long," said Berdych."I mean, it's not the mistake of Rafa, it's the mistake of the referee. He just needed to show him that it's not like he can do whatever he wants on the court.

and the ATP PR award went to him because it's about business, Nadal can be OK on court but Sports of the Year is absurd...everone knows it

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:20 PM

work Hi!

Sorry you missed all the drama again lol!

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:20 PM

Kristy,
I didn't see any of it, but judging from the comments here it was more like an eruption instead of a meltdown :)

Posted by Master Ace 11/26/2010 at 01:21 PM

Saturday Order of Play from London:

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan vs Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic at 7:15 AM
Rafael Nadal(70-9; 10-4) vs Andy Murray(46-17; 7-4) at 9 AM
Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski vs Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi or Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman at 1:15 PM
Novak Djokovic(58-17; 3-7),unless Andy Roddick(48-17; 4-4) win in straight sets, vs Roger Federer(63-13; 14-6) at 3 PM


Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/26/2010 at 01:22 PM

the pressure is gettin to Nads, can you imagine next year, he's gonna meltdown every week, and I hope all the players relay go after him in a big way, fight, stall, do the same thing back, just like Sod did at Wimby ... do what has to be done, he cant just dictate the entire flow of a match at his whim, which he feels fully entitled to do.. why? I dont know...

Posted by imjimmy 11/26/2010 at 01:22 PM

Right AM. I don't think Nadal is playing freely in this tournament. He looks testy and edgy, like maybe he's trying too hard. Certainly not like the UsOpen, where he was quietly confident, and it showed in his game. Honestly, I was surprised by the outburst.

Anyway, Murray has beaten Nadal when the latter was playing much better. I wouldn't be surprised with an upset unless Nadal raises his game dramatically..

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/26/2010 at 01:23 PM

so rafa gets the first match, unfair scheduling! lol

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:23 PM

Tim

Its all good now.Carlos was all smiles okay

I think drams has its good points

I loved when Roger smashed his racquet by the way lol!

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:25 PM

AM,

So am I. Work you know, always getting in the way :(

Posted by imjimmy 11/26/2010 at 01:25 PM

I gotta say it would be fun to see Nadal smashing his racquet or kicking his water bottles..

Posted by CL 11/26/2010 at 01:26 PM

Kristy - yup, that's the one. Is it Otter Creek?...or the other Vermont brewery?...always get them mixed up. But yeah, right on the river. My husband and I had a lovely last motorcycle ride of the fall jaunt up there. It would be such fun! Just let me know when you are up here and have some time....

I agree...Rafa is definitely no serial fit thrower... and though I think Bernados was first wrong and then right, I thought, given the context, Rafa's loudly voiced complaints were within bounds. But it did seem to totally freak out Tomas...which is 100% on HIM, NOT Rafa...my coms were even laughing about it, as if Tomas was saying to himself, 'oh pretty please, don't let him get mad at ME!' and then he proceeded to play that way for the rest of the game and the TB - pretty much shaking in his booties. Again, NOT Rafa's fault/problem. Just another example of the headcase/hang dog/please kick me that is so often Toma's mien.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:27 PM

imjimmy To me Rafa wants to win here.After last years dismal efforts and I think he is in ways putting too much pressure on himself.I agree with you at the USO Rafa was swinging freely.One has to adopt that attitude of swinging freely at times and not to put one self inder too much pressure or your game can go unstuck.

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:28 PM

CL,
That was so funny! I can actually picture Tomas' face as I read your post :)

Bad Rafa how could you care Tomas like that?

So it Carlos Bernardes was the chair umpire? I think he and Rafa get on pretty well so I can't imagine this will linger for either of them.

Posted by jackson 11/26/2010 at 01:29 PM

@work, I hope it goes up on youtube soon because Rafa in all his spanish passion was glorious! You'll love it I'm sure. Most of his fans do. He was so intense but it was amazing how quickly he channeled all the emotion back into the game and Berdych didn't have a chance after that. :D

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:29 PM

care = scare

Posted by CL 11/26/2010 at 01:29 PM

imjimmy - he can't. smashed racket - toni kills him. Kicked water bottles, his OCD kicks in big time and IT kills him.

Hee..big talk from Byrdy now that he is OFF the court. pffft.

Syd - oh, right... I'd forgotten about the 'call out the reinforcements' moment. How are you by the ay?

Posted by Syd 11/26/2010 at 01:30 PM

"He just needed to show him that it's not like he can do whatever he wants on the court."

But no one in authority ever does "show" Nadal.

Lily livers.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:30 PM

Hell I remember when a ball boy moved Rafa's water bottles on court once.Rafa must have eyes in his head and turned and told him not to move them LOL! Rafa was quite upset too.LOL!

Posted by Tic 11/26/2010 at 01:30 PM

"Ma no, Carlos! Es una barbaridad, una locura!" (=It's ridiculous, it's crazy!)
http://tinyurl.com/24z33y4
http://tinyurl.com/27j3sqe
http://tinyurl.com/26lcxl5
http://tinyurl.com/2b6e3cj

Posted by jackson 11/26/2010 at 01:31 PM

@work, Rafa and Carlos were all smiles and laughing at the handshake. They're both fine.

Posted by Andrew 11/26/2010 at 01:31 PM

Syd: I didn't see Tom Barnes get involved.

The incident is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ93txkR4lg

Having viewed it a few times, you can see that Nadal's arm does go up simultaneous with the umpire's "Out" call, not (as I thought) before it. So you could certainly color the incident as Nadal hesitating, then confirming the out call. Berdych definitely looks over to his box before confirming that he wants to challenge.

Bernades clearly believed that Nadal's gesture/challenge was made before he made the overrule, but I think in Nadal's mind he wasn't quite sure but signalled that he agreed with the umpire. If Tom Barnes said anything, the clip doesn't show it.

If Berdych's momentum was interrupted, well, them's the breaks. Having gone over the video, I think I understand better how things played out, and why Nadal was convinced that the call should be replayed.

Posted by lightforce 11/26/2010 at 01:31 PM

"Nadal can be OK on court but Sports of the Year is absurd...everone knows it"

Again Tim, you are angry because Rafa got the award and not Fed.
Typical huh.

Posted by Syd 11/26/2010 at 01:32 PM

Hey Cl,

Good good, thanks. First snow dancing round these parts, but nothing on the ground. :(

BTW, think I saw a comment of yours on NYT's site. er, just sayin'. :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:32 PM

Syd Lily Livers LOL!

How are you by the way.Dont post much these days.

Posted by Andrew 11/26/2010 at 01:33 PM

The point in question starts at 2:17 in the YouTube video.

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:34 PM

Jackson,
I look forward to seeing it :)
Maybe we're seeing another evolution in Rafa! hehe

Posted by jackson 11/26/2010 at 01:35 PM

Great pictures Tic, but they don't do it justice. The video, I'm sure, will be much better, and I hope it includes the next few points. The determined look on Rafa's face that he was going to win the next point was priceless.

Posted by Sherlock 11/26/2010 at 01:35 PM

"Nadal can be OK on court but Sports of the Year is absurd...everone knows it"

He he. If you weren't such a bastion of objectivity, I'd give you a bad time about this, Tim. :)

So just what is the rule if the umpire calls it out simultaneously with the player calling/challenging?

Posted by Heather 11/26/2010 at 01:36 PM

Soooo Andy's going to beat Novak in straight sets then he'll beat Roger tomorrow and Rafa on Sunday! You heard it here first folks :)

Posted by CL 11/26/2010 at 01:36 PM

Syd - not me...unless I am posting in my sleep...hello Ambien! lol..hmmm... NYTimes tennis bog site?? just cold and windy here.

Andrew - Barnes was there, talking to Rafa briefly...don't know how that rates on the 'level of involvement' scale.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:36 PM

Well Colour Me Surprise

Sherlock wakes up from the dead

Posted by Syd 11/26/2010 at 01:37 PM

*waves to AM* :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:38 PM

CL I am afraid not much lol!

It would have been worth more if he got involved more

Pity lol!

Posted by Syd 11/26/2010 at 01:38 PM

naw, a political site, CL. guess I'm imaging things.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:39 PM

Syd *waves back* lol!

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/26/2010 at 01:39 PM

no im irritated because its RIDICULOUS!

i dont care if Nads wins everything, but this fantasy that he's some humble, ideal sportsmanship laden angel is just utter nonsense, i mean are we dealing with reality here or not?

weve all see he will do anything to change mmentum, throw off rhythm, delay and gain an edge ... we all see it, are we supposed to pretend its not happening? all the little games, well maybe u have to have played compettive tennis for it to bother you, i dont know ...

Posted by CL 11/26/2010 at 01:39 PM

Heather - I am writing it done. But you might want to tell Andy first...he seems HIGHLY dubious of is chances against Rafa. Unless he is just talkin' the 'untalk.' I wouldn't put ropa-dope past Andy...he did play pretty poorly against Fed ...perhaps knowing in his own mind he could beat Ferruu...though he certainly has had looses against Daveed...and the whole thing is a giant Muzz head feint.

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:40 PM

CL,
I think Heather is talking about Andy Roddick not Andy Murray.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:40 PM

Tim

I am afraid I havent dealt with reality in a long time

Though Rafa is soooooooo cute when he gets mad dont you think?

Posted by Sherlock 11/26/2010 at 01:41 PM

Heather, lol. Cool. I love your confidence! That would actually be really fun if Andy could pull it off. TW would hyperventilate. :)

If you only knew, AM. I wish I was dead lately. :) You surviving lately? Did you enjoy Rafa's intense moment today?

Posted by CL 11/26/2010 at 01:41 PM

@work - oh THWACK!!!! of course...you are right. Too many Andy's.

sorry Heather...didn't mean to 'accuse' you of being a Muzz fan. lol.

Posted by Andrew 11/26/2010 at 01:43 PM

Sherlock: an umpire is supposed to decide whether a player's actions were affected by an official's call, and will typically give the player the benefit of the doubt - whether it's a line judge or a chair call.

The two cases where this happens most often is when a player makes a shot, an "out" call is made, and the player's shot doesn't land in court (goes into net, wide, or long). If the umpire decides that the out call was made well after the player struck the ball, he or she may award the point to the opponent if the opponent successfully challenges, or if the umpire instead overrules and says the ball was good.

At other times, a player may leave a ball, indicating it was out, then after an umpire's overrule, protest that he or she could have played the ball and the point should have been replayed. I've seen this happen three times where Roddick has been the player who left the ball then asked (unsuccessfully) for a replay.

This is the first time I can recall this particular combination - no call from line judge, umpire overrule, player stopping play.

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 01:43 PM

Sherlock,
Why do you wish you were dead?
I watched the video Andrew provided and Rafa looked mad but nothing he said was out of line, in my very humble opinion :)

AM,
You're too funny! Let Tim vent in peace. He just doesn't like our little cheating Spaniard ;-)

Posted by Heather 11/26/2010 at 01:44 PM

Oh, CL I was referring to Roddick :)

Hi Sherlock, long time no see, I think it would be fabulous!

Kristy, if you're still here, glad you made it to VT afterall, hope you're having good weather, it's raining here in MA.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:44 PM

Sherlock I enjoy all Rafa's intense moments

Just opening up another bottle of something I have got going here tastes good though.

No its not Coke A Cola thats for cleaning my windows.

Posted by Kristy 11/26/2010 at 01:44 PM

Heather, right on, that's exactly what's going to happen. (:

Andy R will have found some Yankee-catering restaurant yesterday, and stocked up on so many carbs he'll blast Novak off the court.

Please.

Posted by Tic 11/26/2010 at 01:45 PM

And then this happened, which actually was "una barbaridad, una locura":
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v25/osmonde/42-26760366.jpg

Winning next point:
http://tinyurl.com/36834ml

Winning that game:
http://tinyurl.com/35ztybx

Winning first set TB (and knowing he's in the semis):
http://tinyurl.com/3ajqgoy

Posted by Heather 11/26/2010 at 01:45 PM

It's okay CL :), I don't mind Murray at all, he'd be my number 2 to win the whole thing.

Posted by Sherlock 11/26/2010 at 01:45 PM

Thanks, Andrew. Very interesting. This is the first time I've seen this combination as well.

Posted by CL 11/26/2010 at 01:45 PM

Sherlock - did you overeat? Tsk.

Posted by Ruth 11/26/2010 at 01:46 PM

I'm enjoying reading all (well, almost all) of the continuing interpretations of and commentaries on the Rafa incident, part of which I missed because I was on the phone. (I'm rally more upset about missing the reportedly sweet "Berdych and little kid" episode -- again because of the darn phone.)

And, now, because I promised to meet with the vegan relatives for some of their Thanksgiving leftovers later this afternoon and evening, I'll have to miss the last RR match and, probably, the first replay of the Nadal match. I hope TC schedules other replays because I haven't had either my old VCR or my new DVR hooked up since I arrived in Atlanta.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/26/2010 at 01:48 PM

lol well i dontn expect a Rafa kid to see any of this, he walks on water and his 'intensity' is just sexy, no? the only good side is that next year, there's nowhere to go but down... see how cranky he gets when its the stage when even winning everything isnt enough, thats coming soon enough...

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:48 PM

My Dear Tim

Passing you a "extra long GE with extra salt" ok with my compliments

My boy got to to the s/final ok with drama I dont care after last year

Hmmm have to keep my emotions in check in front of Tim.

Posted by lightforce 11/26/2010 at 01:49 PM


"i mean are we dealing with reality here or not? "

Certainly, the reality of some Federer fans toward Nadal is so very much different from the true reality. Is that fair to say Mr Tim?

Posted by imjimmy 11/26/2010 at 01:51 PM

I guess, overall, Nadal was right to protest. It was just that the vehemence of the outburst left everyone surprised. I mean, it was not a GS final, and Nadal had all but qualified for the WTF SF anyway.

My guess is that Nadal is frustrated with his game. He wants to put up a good show here, but for whatever reason, he's not playing as well as he was a few months ago. The surface also doesn't suit his game.

Anyway, I dunno how Berdych lost his composure. He didn't play with the same sting afterwards. That's no one BUT Berdych's fault. If I were in the stadium , I would have asked for my money back. LOL..

Posted by Sherlock 11/26/2010 at 01:51 PM

@work, it's a very long story. :)

I saw it live and, of course, couldn't understand a word Rafa was saying. So the actual content I don't know about. But as far as his actions, I thought he was fine. Intense, sure, but at that time, it was a huge point. It's not like he went J-Mac or Jimbo on us. :)

All in all, I like it. We're all infatuated with these guys acting like choir boys. Personally, it drives me nuts. :)

Posted by mg 11/26/2010 at 01:52 PM

Andrew: Thanks for the link. That was helpful. I think the umpire is at fault. By overruling he basically said, "no need to challenge Rafa I saw it too, so I'll take responsibility." Thus, when the challenge came back, the umpire should have should have taken responsibility and allowed the replay. Instead he pretended as if Rafa gambled and lost. If the umpire would have let Rafa challenge there would have been no issue--Rafa would have lost the point.

Posted by Ruth 11/26/2010 at 01:53 PM

imjimmy: You're right. Rafa has been playing with a bit of an edge in this tournament. As I just wrote in an e-mail to one of his fans, that edge has served him well IMHO in the RR matches, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the return of the "colm" for the semis. I admitted that I enjoyed the part of the "tantrum" that I saw, but, as I also said, I enjoy only rare tantrums. :)

Posted by CWATC 11/26/2010 at 01:53 PM

The youtube Andrew posted is edited highlights, it doesn't show all the arguing tho' it shows the point.

After arguing w/ the ump, Nadal went over to Barnes and appealed to him. Got no satisfaction, so went back and argued more w/ the ump, then finally continued to play.

As far as I know there is no time limit on how long players can argue about a call they disagree with, so while I think the ump made the correct call, I don't think Nadal did anything terrible.

It's unfortunate it disrupted the rythm of the match but these things happen.

As has been mentioned above it could all have been avoided if the ump hadn't overruled in the first place, but oh well.

Posted by lightforce 11/26/2010 at 01:54 PM

"thats coming soon enough "
Wishful thinking is good for the soul sometimes. But that's just all there is to it....... wishful thinking

Posted by Sherlock 11/26/2010 at 01:55 PM

He he, CL. If only it were that simple. :)

How is life in the land of freedom and unity?? :)

Hi, Heather. Totally agree. :)

AM, imbibing already? :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 01:56 PM

Sherlock Yeah whatever it takes.

Posted by imjimmy 11/26/2010 at 01:57 PM

""but this fantasy that he's some humble, ideal sportsmanship laden angel is just utter nonsense, i mean are we dealing with reality here or not? ""
___________

LOL Tim. Same goes for Fed too. In case you missed, the ATP Sportsmanship award should be renamed the ATP popularity award. It's nothing but a way to reward someone who wins a lot.

If it were TRULY given to the best sportsman, then it wouldn't have gone to Fed or Nadal in the past several years..

Posted by Andrew 11/26/2010 at 01:58 PM

mg: I think, having watched the video a few times, that there's a genuine question as to whether Nadal would have challenged. He hesitated, the umpire saw this and made the "out" call, as Bernades spoke Nadal's arm went up in confirmation, and he stopped play.

I think Bernades genuinely believed Nadal stopped play before hearing the out call, intending to challenge. I think Nadal genuinely believed that he only stopped play after Bernades made the call. Disputes can happen between two people acting in good faith. I'm calling it as I see it, although my view of what happened has changed after watching the rerun 4 or 5 times. Neither Bernades nor Nadal had that luxury.

Posted by jackson 11/26/2010 at 01:59 PM

imjimmy, I'm glad I saw the match that I saw. I thought it was wonderful and intense and featured brilliant shotmaking by both players although Tomas was deflated when he went down a break in the second set. I've read a number of other forums and everyone is buzzing about what a great match it was. *shrugs*

Posted by Ruth 11/26/2010 at 02:03 PM

Thanks for the YouTube video link, Andrew. I'll see what I missed of the "incident" and hope to see an uninterrupted replay of the whole match, maybe later tonight after I return from vegan country and my phone isn't so active with holiday callers.

Hey, Sherlock! Missed you much!

Posted by imjimmy 11/26/2010 at 02:04 PM

Yep Ruth. This year (unlike in the past) Nadal has shown the ability to raise his level at will. I mean, look at the difference in play in the RG SF and Final; Wimb early rounds vs post QF; UsOpen vs Cincy/Toronto.

Personally, I am expecting Nadal to turn it on in the elimination matches. Murray will be a good test for him. If he gets past the Scott, it would mean he's playing very well, and will likely win the title.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:05 PM

imjimmy I will wait to see if Rafa changes any of his tactics with Murray on a hard court? Hmmmm.He is not swing freely and is putting way too much pressure on himself and his game at times is clealy becoming unstuck because of it.His b/hand needs big improvement it was such a weapon on the hard court as well.Remembering 08?.I dont think this match was a great one.

Posted by The Mighty Nadal 11/26/2010 at 02:07 PM

Did I watched the same match? Nadal played a very solid match and have a very good chance against Murray. Murray's recent performence isn't so impressive so Rafa will have a decent chance.

Posted by mg 11/26/2010 at 02:10 PM

Andrew: I totally agree with you that there was no bad faith here. I just think when I weigh the interpretations the umpire was the issue here. When he overruled I think he took away any risk that Nadal would have borne if he'd challenged. If Nadal had challenged, then I agree he should have lost the point. Berdych had to challenge the umpire's call. Thus, the umpire should have borne the risk (here it would probably be looking like a fool for interfering when he shouldn't have). Since Berdych won the challenge, he proved the umpire wrong. I think the umpire tried to have it both ways here.

Posted by Tic 11/26/2010 at 02:10 PM

Rock Stars For a Week, indeed.

"Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky":
http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0cD11k256Y9pT/x610.jpg

Courtside, Iron Maiden's guitarist Adrian Smith & rock wannabe Pat Cash chew fat:
http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/09jMchq7dkgpI/610x.jpg

Young King Arthur (Bradley James) seems to like it:
http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/08P36xN2hq4HH/610x.jpg
http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/01es1jVaZ16tO/610x.jpg

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:11 PM

The Mighty Nadal

Rafa has impoved with each match.I still his b.hand needs improvement.Some of those b/hand returns today were Ugh.His b.hand on a court court to me was one of his biggest weapons.Though he improved his 1sr serve percentage which was good to see.He will need that for his next match as well.I think he can beat Murray though he will have to lift again for that match.

Posted by AB 11/26/2010 at 02:12 PM

Andrew: per my 11:57, it was simultaneous *and* Rafa had his back to Carlos so only heard the immediate "Out!" call.

Tomas then immediately complained "Why do you always call against me?" to Carlos, where upon Carlos said he could challenge...which he did.

For the record, I don't think this was a straight forward call, and I think any competitive person in the same situation (serving to stay in a very tight, high-quality TB) would have been agitated and POd.

I also think that Tomas was already going off the rails. He was starting to think that the calls were against him. I don't understand why he didn't use the challenge more. Because he didn't it was starting to work on his mind.

Both their levels went down in 2nd, but it was very high-quality for most of the 1st. Watching Tomas I am, for the nth time, reminded of how good he is, his ROS, BH, touch at net and movement are really a joy to watch when he's on. He played 2 really bad points and lost the match in straights to the #1 of 2010. Probably only against Roger would he have lost a match on 2 bad points.

He should feel a bit better about his level of play in this tournament. I'm glad he had a chance to improve on the 2nd half of his season which, like RAndy's was poor.

Posted by Tuulia 11/26/2010 at 02:13 PM

Andrew, yes, Carlos believed Rafa stopped play and wanted to challenge, Rafa says he didn't, but was hesitating because the ball was so close. He says it would have been a big risk for him to challenge, since there had been no call. The way he sees it he was unsure but returned the ball, and therefore felt the point should have been replayed, not the point given to Tomas. I can see both Carlos's and Rafa's interpretations of the situation, since it wasn't clear either way. And It was an important point, it had been a close contest and Rafa wasn't in the semis yet, so I can also see why he got upset since he felt the umpire's decision was wrong.
In the end tho, Rafa played well after it, so Tomas didn't break there, and Rafa and Carlos remain on smiley terms, too. Ultimately, no big deal, and no harm done.

Posted by The Mighty Nadal 11/26/2010 at 02:16 PM

AM-I agree with you that Rafa needs to raise his level against Murray. Especially his cross court backhand so that he can break down Murray's weaker side (His forehand).

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:18 PM

Tuulia The main thing for me was Rafa didnt harbour those feelings and got on with the match.Some other players could have let that get in their way.As you said Rafa and Carlos were all smiles after the match.

Like what happens on court.Stays on court.The match ended.Rafa and Carlos were all smiles

Posted by imjimmy 11/26/2010 at 02:21 PM

I agree AM. The thing is that Nadal is hitting his forehand so well that he feels (perhaps) that he doesn't need to attack using his backhand. He can just keep the ball in play from the backhand wing, and then rely on his superior footwork to eventually line up a forehand and gain the upper hand in the rally. Of course, if he gets his AO 09 backhand back, he'll be extremely hard to beat. But I haven't seen him hitting it that well CONSISTENTLY for a long time.

Anyway, what I like about Murray-Nadal matches is that how Murray forces Nadal to come out of his comfort zone. It's not easy for Nadal to hit through Murray as the Scott keeps on junk-balling back to Nadal and then gains the upperhand using his backhand. Nadal really had to use different patterns (such as the I/O fh) coz his normal attacking mode plays to Murray's strengths. So just looping the ball from his backhand won't be enough against Murray.

Also for whatever reason, Murray always seems to always serve considerably ABOVE average against Rafa. Both in AO '10 and UsOpen '08, Murray served (and S-V'ed) unbelievably in clutch. And while, Nadal almost always gets breaks against Murray, he finds it harder to consolidate and hold his serve. That's because Murray doesn't give Nadal any cheap points on serve, and Nadal has to rally from the back to hang on to dear life.

So, besides the backhand, it will be vital for Nadal to serve well. He REALLY needs those cheap points against Murray. All that said, Murray-Nadal always bring out some great tennis. I'm expecting a barn burner tomorrow. For sure, the match of the tournament..

Posted by AB 11/26/2010 at 02:22 PM

AM: the Rafa BH take-back is short and quick, but his footwork on the BH is still tentative. He is not planting as forcefully as he used to which I attribute to conditioning during his tendinitis period.

There's nothing like excruciating pain as a Pavlovian-type of training.

He will have to unlearn that in order to hit those deadly sharp-angled flat CC BHs of old.

Posted by The Mighty Nadal 11/26/2010 at 02:24 PM

We rarely see Rafa's outbursts. Unlike other players who smash their rackets. He's always calm, collected and passionate. It means hes really serious. He really wants to win this tournament.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:26 PM

imjimmy Agree.The serve for Rafa will be important.Hmmm the b.hand.At times I feel like you he gets soo over confident with the f/hand he forgets about the b/hand and sometimes too I feel he loses confidence with it.As You stated the b/hand at the 09 AO was just great to watch.

I hope it is a highly contested affair with each player bringing their best on court.

Posted by Tuulia 11/26/2010 at 02:28 PM

AM, yes, he didn't lose his focus. I don't think I've ever seen him lose focus after getting angry about something during a match. And even though he still felt afterwards that Carlos had been wrong, and said so, he also said Carlos is a great umpire and everyone makes mistakes. :)

Posted by CWATC 11/26/2010 at 02:28 PM

Just to be clear, Rafa stopped play and lifted his arm to challenge before Carlos verbally said "out"; you can freeze the youtube and see Rafa's hand in the air before Carlos says anything.

Carlos also made a hand gesture tho' it's hard to see on the youtube as he's so small in the picture. It's possible his hand gesture was simultanous w/ Rafa's but as Rafa had his back to him I doubt he saw it but can't be sure.

mg's point about the ump taking responsibility thru' the overule is interesting, I'd have to consult the rule book for one. I would think tho' that an ump's overrule should be treated the same as a linesperson's "out" call. If Rafa stopped play before the call, he should lose the point. If he actually saw Carlos's hand gesture and stopped play because of that the ump's decision is wrong, but I doubt that was the case.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:28 PM

AB Agree with the foot work on the b/hand wing.Rafa at times is too slow to get into the correct position to play.The feet have to be right first unless your shot will go astray.

Posted by The Mighty Nadal 11/26/2010 at 02:30 PM

Imjimmy-I see your point. At USOPEN(2008) and AUSSIE(This year) in both cases, Murray served great against Rafa. But like in this tournament against Federer what if Murray didn't serve great. It could happen tommorrow. Do you still think Murray will be the favorate?

Posted by CWATC 11/26/2010 at 02:31 PM

Anyway, I'm no Rafa expert but thought he was playing well and has a good chance to beat Murray.

Posted by AB 11/26/2010 at 02:34 PM

Rafa just wants to win. Period. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. It was a very close match up to that point, with tight holds.

Rafa needed to hold just to get into a TB.

Some things happened at the same time:
- he wasn't sure if Tomas' ball was in/ he played the ball anyway (which stayed in play)/the linesman did not call out/ Carlos overruled the linesman and made the out call - raising his hand at the same time / Rafa raised his hand / Tomas complained Carlos was against him.

If's sports folks, unique situations happen all the time. That's why we play. That's why we watch.

I wonder if the hyper-critical posters have ever played a tight, high-stakes game of any kind and had a subjective call go against them.

I have. I've had refs make subjective calls on set and match points. The way Rafa reacted to Carlos' judgment call is nothing compared to how it feels when a ref intrudes on a game with a subjective call to end a set or match.

Fortunately, Carlos is a professional, i.e., he doesn't need to interject his ego into a match, unlike, say, Cedric.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:37 PM

AB I have always liked Carlos as a umpire

Cedric No Comment.

Posted by Tic 11/26/2010 at 02:37 PM

The Doublecall/Tantrumgate was further discussed by Rafa & Carlos between sets, but with much less intensity and with some added shirtlessness:
http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/3034/20101124zafa54219.jpg
http://img7.imageshack.us/img7/9407/isi1h.jpg
http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/9277/belga1.jpg
http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/5408/isi2t.jpg

(Still not convinced, judging by the last pic.)

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 02:40 PM

Had a visit from my boss, quite unexpected and not necessarily pleasant.. oh well!

Sherlock,
I hope you don't entertain that thought for too long!

As for Rafa, he didn't say anything inappropriate that I could hear in the video but I don't know if that was all anyway.

And my commentators said the other day that if the Stefan Edberg award really had to go the best sportsman in the game it would go to a challenger (can't remember his name though)

Posted by mg 11/26/2010 at 02:41 PM

"Anyway, I'm no Rafa expert but thought he was playing well and has a good chance to beat Murray."

I agree. While I think that when Rafa is at his best his backhand is better, I'm not that nervous. I would be worried if he was spraying his backhands long or hitting his slice short. Today, while the backhand wasn't an offensive weapon, it was keeping him neutral. I think that's an improvement from the beginning of the tournament. What I'm hoping for is that he steps up tomorrow (as he often does at big tournaments) and begins to his backhand crosscourt winners.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:44 PM

MG I think Rafa will step up tomorrow he understands full well coming into a s/final that is what is needed.He always gives his best and that to me is always important regardless of the outcome of any match he plays.

Posted by AB 11/26/2010 at 02:45 PM

BTW: I think pissy Fed is hysterical. I join Ruth in enjoying seeing the intensity of desire to play well and win from both Rafa and Roger and any competitor, really.

I cut some slack for heat of the moment stuff in sports.

There's nothing so boring as watching an athlete going down to defeat without putting up a fight.

Posted by Tuulia 11/26/2010 at 02:47 PM

oh agreed:
Carlos - nice
Cedric - no comment

All time fave Mohamed Lahyani. Just seeing him brightens up my day. :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/26/2010 at 02:49 PM

Tuulia Dont forget Carlos Ramos he has the Best Hair as a Umpire and is quite easy on the eyes as well.

Posted by Master Ace 11/26/2010 at 02:50 PM

Saturday Order of Play from London:

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan vs Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic at 7:15 AM
Rafael Nadal(70-9; 10-4) vs Andy Murray(46-17; 7-4) at 9 AM
Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski vs Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi at 1:15 PM
Novak Djokovic(58-17; 3-7),unless Andy Roddick(48-17; 4-4) win in straight sets, vs Roger Federer(63-13; 14-6) at 3 PM

Sunday Order of Play from London:
Doubles Final at 10:30 AM
Singles Final at 12:30 PM

Posted by @work 11/26/2010 at 02:51 PM

Rafa has already surpassed all my expectations for this tournaments both in wins and controversy :)
So I'll be Ok whatever happens tomorrow and Murray is my adopted favorite anyway, so best of luck to both of them. Since I will be home I hope it's an entertaining match from beginning to end. It doesn't seem that we've had that yet in this tourney.

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