Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Wimbledon: Report Cards
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Wimbledon: Report Cards 07/09/2007 - 5:40 PM

FednadalIn the span of a Sunday afternoon, a tournament to forget became one that won’t be leaving the minds of tennis fans anytime soon. That’s the thing about the Slams. Even one as beleaguered as this year’s Wimbledon still has more to offer that just about any sporting event—good, bad, ugly, and dramatic. In the end, the final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal made it clear that we’re being treated to a golden age on the men’s side, courtesy of two of the best players in the sport’s history. I’ll wrap this one up by rating the relevant characters and moments involved.

Roger Federer: A+
Federer earned this championship in a different way from his others. In the past, he’s been far and away the best player in the event—any sets taken from him seemed like flukes. As we know, this was the first time he had to go five sets in any match during his five-year run. It’s also the first time he had to do what champions occasionally have to do to survive: Win despite being outplayed. The final was a classic Sampras-like grass-court performance from Federer. First he was rescued by his serve—Nadal was the better player when the rallies began—then by his ability to avoid making errors at the most important moments, i.e., the tiebreakers, and finally by his champions’ ability to take a match when his opponent left it up for grabs.

Federer lost it in the fourth set when he asked that Hawk-Eye be turned off. It was a shocking moment of vulnerability from him; John McEnroe was right, though, that it wasn’t the machine that was on his mind, it was the play of Nadal and his own botched shots. But Federer redeemed himself with his acceptance speech after the match. One thing that has bothered me about him during his years of domination is his inability to accept that anyone is even remotely in his league as a player. It’s an attitude that has led to his stubborn insistence that he doesn’t have to change his game to beat anyone, including Nadal on clay—he’s Roger Federer, so why would he change anything? But talking to Sue Barker on court, Federer showed the grace of a mature champion. “I told Rafa at the net that we both deserved to win.” This was just right for three reasons. It was an honest assessment; it gave Nadal well-earned respect and acceptance as a worthy rival on all courts; and it recognized that this had been an historic match between two players as much as it had been an historic victory for one. Forget the dorky, trying-too-hard outfits and their “classiness.” Federer’s generosity was class in action.

Venus Williams: A+
True, Venus wasn’t put to a true test in the final, but her fourth Wimbledon win was still remarkable because it was so Williams—bizarre, inexplicable, utterly unlikely, and totally convincing. Like Serena in Australia, Venus made a couple early escapes and then, out of nowhere, just started to play infinitely better. All the balls that were flying out in the early rounds were suddenly perfectly measured. The perspective of the show courts somehow gives her more presence; there you can appreciate her towering height, ridiculous legs, graceful movement, and grave competitiveness. When she got to Centre Court, she put just a touch more topspin on her forehand, stuck her backhand volleys, and ate up yards of grass with each step. It made me wonder how she ever loses.

But that’s not a question worth asking; nor is it worth wondering whether Venus is “back”—who knows? This was just another chapter in the strange and unique legend of the Williamses, the tennis family that does everything their own way.

Men’s Final: A
This doesn’t get an A+ because the fifth set lacked nail-biting drama at the very end. But in every other way it was a classic—it may even have been the best-played match in the history of tennis. This isn't a measurable judgment, of course, but one thing that amazed me about both guys was their court coverage. No matter what’s been done to the grass surface in recent years, the ball is still moving through it pretty quickly. We can complain that the courts are too slow, but after watching Federer and Nadal, I started to think that the men make the grass look slow because they’ve gotten so fast. You can look at the ratio of winners to errors to judge the quality of a match, but they’re not going to tell the whole story of this one.

In politics, the incumbent has all the advantages; in boxing, they say you have to knock out the champ to claim the belt. It’s the same at the Slams. The champ goes in with the simple but crucial mental edge of having done it before—he can have no doubt of his ability to win this tournament. Think of the difference in pressure between a defending champion and someone trying to win a major for the first time. For Federer today, losing might mean he would be remembered as a four-time Wimbledon winner rather than a five-timer; for Nadal, it could be the difference between being forever known as a Wimbledon champion—or not at all. (The reverse is true at the French, and you can see Nadal has an advantage in the key moments there.) That’s not to say Federer didn’t feel it, but the pressure Nadal must have felt as he got to the end of the match is the kind that will make even the most self-assured player blink. Nadal was in uncharted territory as he threatened to take the lead for the first time all afternoon early in the fifth set. And he blinked.

I had said before the match that it would be decided by who could take over the center of the court. But that ended up being pretty much a stalemate—if anything Nadal won that battle. What finally decided it was a quirk of this particular match, which played out in the opening games of the fifth set. Nadal was on a roll and Federer was shanking balls and hanging his head. The Spaniard got to 15-40 twice; both times he slightly overhit makeable backhand returns, a clear sign of nerves. It was just enough of a slip for Federer. He held and then, having dodged a bullet, finally relaxed and played tennis like a man just out of jail. Nadal, on the other hand, couldn’t shake those missed opportunities. After going neck and neck for four sets, that was enough for Federer to get his nose across first.

VenusRafael Nadal: A
Despite his loss, this event belonged to Nadal as much as it did Federer. It was a step forward for the Spaniard; anyone who still thought he was just a modern-day Thomas Muster, or that his Wimbledon run last year was a fluke, was silenced as Nadal made his way through a very tough draw and played some of the most impressive tennis—on or off clay—of his career. He even narrowed the gap with Federer; for the first time I found myself wondering whether Nadal could catch him for No. 1 at some point in the future. The kid showed his usual heart—instead of complaining about the scheduling or his physical condition, he went out and faced down two of his major nemeses—but he also showed fans that he is every bit as “talented” as Federer. He may not be as elegant, but there have been few shots in history as lethal as his forehand, and there have been few, if any, clay-courters with his hands and instincts around the net. I hope this loss doesn’t stick in his mind, either over the summer or in the future at Wimbledon. The shot of him hanging his head, hair in his eyes, as he sat on the sidelines is the most poignant moment of the tennis year so far—the one-man whirlwind of energy was spent, physically and emotionally.

John McEnroe: A
Johnny Mac doesn’t try too hard, and it’s a lesson all his colleagues could learn. By now he’s an old pro, a familiar and surprisingly friendly voice. He was outstanding in the men’s final, building the occasion without overhyping it, pointing out when Federer had come unglued in the fourth, and praising Nadal when he was hanging his head after the match: “Be proud, Rafa”—perfect words that were particularly meaningful coming from the man who had been in the same position after losing to Borg 27 years ago.

Bjorn Borg: A
For years he seemed bitter about the sport, avoiding Wimbledon and just about everywhere else the game was played. As late as 2001 he was calling Federer to thank him for keeping Sampras from tying his record, not the action of a man at peace with his place in the game. Yesterday he looked like he made that peace. He looked good, in fact, laughing it up with Manolo Santana and no longer appearing to be the shadow of a champion that he has often seemed to be since retiring.

Darren Cahill: A-
Killer is already the most concise and insightful commentator on ESPN. With one line, he located a major reason why Tomas Berdych continues to be so erratic—he's not good at taking little steps before he hits the ball. Now Cahill just needs to step on his voluble colleagues’ toes and give us those lines a little more often.

Richard Gasquet: A-
The world finally got a taste of what the Microwave of tennis can do when he heats up. In the fourth set he reached a level that no one came close to matching at this tournament. If he can continue to challenge late at Slams, the entire men’s game will be more exciting.

Novak Djokovic: B+
I would have given him an A- for the way he fought off Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis to reach the semis, but I thought he was too cavalier in the way he retired against Nadal. This is the semifinals of Wimbledon; if you’re going to quit, at least don’t walk off smiling. (Bumped back up to a B+ for his Sharapova imitation.)

Marion Bartoli: B+
It was nice to meet a new player and see a new face, and her Pierce Brosnan comments were classics. She was also entertainingly quirky on court. But it isn't a great advertisement for the women’s game when the Wimbledon finalist has such a fundamentally funky forehand. Not that it isn’t effective; it just isn’t ready for prime time (or breakfast time).

ESPN: B-
They get a B just for broadcasting so much of Wimbledon. But they continue to infuriate fans with reruns and time-consuming personality profiles. If you’re going to send so many people over, show us as much tennis as you can.

Justine Henin: B-
Not her finest hour. She got too much coaching against Serena, and she robbed us of a potentially classic women’s final by fading against the starstruck Bartoli.

Andy Roddick: B-
It wasn’t entirely his fault. Gasquet had nothing to lose in the third set and loosened up, which is not what you want him to do. But at the end, Roddick appeared to lose the belief that he could win. He trudged between points, served-and-volleyed when he shouldn’t have, and dropped his volleys back into the middle of the court. The Frenchman took the heart out of him, which is something you rarely see from Roddick, particularly against a lower-ranked opponent.

James Blake: C
Will he ever fully believe in his talent? He only seems to be comfortable when there are no expectations for him. But at 28, there isn’t time for him to go down in the rankings far enough to come up again.

Ted Robinson: C
He needs a new vocal inflection; not everything can be totally unbelievable, can it?

Jonas Bjorkman: C-
Cough, cough—psycho!—cough, cough

The All England Club: F
By not playing on the middle Sunday, officials made the tournament too hard for the players and less competitive and entertaining for fans in the end. Yes, the men’s final was played on time on Sunday, but one of the semifinals wasn’t finished because of physical exhaustion. "Tradition" isn't worth that.

Tiger/Henry/Federer Gillette ad: F
How can a commercial with three international stars look so bush league?


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by Samantha 07/09/2007 at 06:08 PM

Steve, you forgot to mention someone esle who deserves an A+ and that is Cliffie for looking so smoking HOTT during the championship. Go Cliffie, you're hott!

Posted by doowaadaddynz 07/09/2007 at 06:11 PM

The officials did their best to stuff up their own tournament by not playing on the middle Sunday. The players saved it for them with their fantastic performances in the second week. What is so sacrosanct about this middle Sunday anyway?

I don't get your comment on Jonas Bjorkman. Could you please explain?

Posted by George 07/09/2007 at 06:15 PM

Of all the stuff written thus far, best analysis of Wimbledon by far!! great job!

Posted by Ryan 07/09/2007 at 06:19 PM

LOL Steve--a friend of mine had the same comment about that commercial.

The calendar in the background that has "Today" written in every date--that kills me.

Posted by Ryan 07/09/2007 at 06:20 PM

Oh, and also spot on about Ted Robinson. He sounds exasperated by EVERYTHING.

"Did you know that Roger Federer....PLAYS WITH A ONE-HANDED BACKHAND?!?!"

"Did you know...that I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance BY SWITCHING TO GEICO!??!"

Posted by Samantha 07/09/2007 at 06:24 PM

Jonas has a melt down on the court, went beserk and cursed out the umpire in Swedish. And no, I won't repeat his remarks because they are too ugly to repeat. I like Jonas, but he went to far and he owes the umpire an apology. He did the same thing in a match in Sweden, I was ashamed of his behavior. Jonas knows that in Sweden it is considered very poor manners to curse someone out in a language they don't understand. It's considered taboo, so he just made himself, not the umpire look bad. The use of the F-word isn't acceptable particularly when you say it in Swedish to someone who doesn't speak the language. I hope he apologizes. He deserved an F+ for his behavior. Go Justine

Posted by linex 07/09/2007 at 06:26 PM

Congratulations on a great post!! I totally agree with all your comments regarding the tennis/ and main characters of this Wimbledon 2007.

I hold no opinion on that commercial since I did not watch it ...Niether I know who is Ted Robinson. I live in Southamerica and I only get ESPN Deportes and Espn + for Latin America main tennis commentator a former player Javier Frana whose comments are clever and is not biased against any player.

Posted by Tony 07/09/2007 at 06:26 PM

Great wrap up. Thanks! And you are so on to the Fed. Though he deserves the A+, still he showed a darker side that Nadal seems to induce to appear. Nadal gets into his head... He still needs to win the French, and though people have lowered their standards re greatness, I think he needs to win it in back to back fashion the way Borg did it, not once, or twice, but three times, and in consecutive years...

Posted by patrick 07/09/2007 at 06:29 PM

Steve,
If ESPN did not put that as an instant classic today, I would have given them a final grade of "C" for the same reasons you previously mentioned.
I would have given Blake a "C-" - I am sorry but when Plan A does not work, you need a Plan B. At his age, he should know when to change tactics even though he is still number 9.

On the other WTA semifinalist, I would give Ana Ivanovic a "B" for making it to the semi after being a finalist at RG.

ATP QF Grades
Marcos Baghdatis - B
Juan Carlos Ferrero - B (Taking Blake out convincingly in round 3)
Tomas Berdych - B- (Got smoked by Rafa in QF and not handling the wind conditions. Also, he won Halle so I thought he would have given Rafa a closer match)

WTA QF Grades
Serena Williams - B (Gutting out a tough match after getting injured against Daniela and taking Justine to a tough 3-setter with a hand and calf injury
Michaella Krajicek - B (Making it to her first Slam QF)
Nicole Vaidisova - B- (Had chance to serve it out against Ana but could not deliver even with 3 MP
Svetlana Kuznetsova - C (Had easy road until QF when she ran into Venus)

Other than that, I agree with you on the grades. Just curious, what grade do you give Sharapova,Jankovic, and Mauresmo?

Posted by Joe 07/09/2007 at 06:33 PM

>> though people have lowered their standards re greatness,

So Tony, is Borg not a great then, because he hasn't won the U.S. Open even once, not even mentioning 3 years in a row as the Fed has done? One of the reasons I dislike GOAT comparisons is that statistics and the achievements can be twisted to suit the observer's biases (like the French Open-Wimbledon duo being THE determinant of greatness), and the end result, it seems, is that all the greats of the game seem diminished by the exercise.

Posted by Thomas Muster KAD 07/09/2007 at 06:33 PM

Thomas Muster with an H!

Posted by Sophia 07/09/2007 at 06:36 PM

Steve, you have just completely expressed my opinion on the events of Wimbledon, the players and in particular the men's final. I completely agree with everything you have said, perhaps with the exception that Wimbledon was a tournament to forget before THAT final.

Yes the weather was terrible and the organisation questionable, but when matches did get played the majority of them were superb. So many went the distance, involved great comebacks or quite simply great tennis. Safarova Vs Jankovic was one of the best women's matches I have seen in years, Tipsarevic Vs Gonzo was another thriller and Gasquet Vs Mahut was a great match up.

Also special mention to Jelena Jankovic and Jamie Murray for their mixed doubles title. Not because they were a scratch pairing who won by beating 5 seeded teams on their journey, but because they smiled the whole way through their matches and actually dared to enjoy themselves whilst on the court. I don't know which is more rare: seeing the smiles and laughter or the subsequent sight of witnessing a packed crowd going mad for a doubles match. I get the feeling that perhaps the two are in fact linked together.

Posted by Samantha 07/09/2007 at 06:36 PM

I wanted to add something on Jonas, in Sweden, we have certain cultural taboos that we don't cross, such as, correcting a foreign speakers grammar, and another is speaking in a vulgar manner in Swedish to a person we know doesn't understand Swedish, and for Jonas to do this is very offensive. You would never see Borg or Mats do this because they know that in Swedish culture isn't acceptable and considered beyond rude.

Posted by tennis kad 07/09/2007 at 06:38 PM

Really excellent recap. In fact, I'd give it an A+

I totally agree that the men's final may have been the single most well-played tennis match in history. Like John and Ted kept saying, it was a privilege to watch it.

My own analysis is that Federer wasn't outplayed so much except for the fourth set and the beginning of the fifth. He and Nadal were pretty even for the first three. Nadal even got a little lucky to win the second set, a few let cords and close calls went his way in the final game. Then in the fourth Nadal started hitting as many forehands and possible, and, well, you know how that works. But then in the middle of the fifth, when Fed looked beaten and Nadal had all the momentum, Fed started running around his backhand and hitting as many forehands as possible, and, well, you know the rest. In fact, I kept wondering why Nadal kept hitting his second serve wide to the ad court in the final game. He should have realized that Federer was going to run around and hit a go-for-broke forehand. Nadal could have done himself a huge favor by serving down the middle.

I also loved the Roddick-Gasquet match. I actually found myself laughing out loud at the ridiculous winners Gasquet was hitting in the third and fourth sets. It still doesn't look like he's fully confident of his game enough of the time to take it to the next level. But we'll see.

Posted by svelterogue 07/09/2007 at 06:43 PM

amen to the F's! and amen to the A's! LOL

i give jankovic a C for being such a whiner when she lost to bartoli. should have been an F but her lifting jamie to give him his first wimbledon deserves an A, so that brings the total average to C. haha

and i give rafa an A+. yeeezzz i do. :)

Posted by tangerine popsicle (tangi) 07/09/2007 at 06:44 PM

Does anyone think the Connors/Roddick coaching arrangement might be in jeopardy? I don't think Connors spent all that time in Europe with Andy to watch a 1st round loss in Paris and a disappointing QF loss at Wimby. Andy had some great results right after they paired up but it seems like his progress has stalled. If Andy doesn't have a good 2nd half of the season, I just have a hard time seeing Jimmy sticking around.

Posted by Alex 07/09/2007 at 06:46 PM

Classic summary. Wimbledon did deserve an "F" for their poor scheduling. I give credit to the players for giving us 4 late tourney nail-biters: Djokovic/Hewitt, Djokovic/Bahgdatis, Gasquet/Roddick, and the Final.

The Final did have top level play although the Federer/Safin '05 Aussie Semi was equally impressive.

Djokovic's impressions are now officially funnier than SNL. I don't know if that says more about Novak's ability or the low level of SNLs cast and writing.

Posted by richie 07/09/2007 at 06:51 PM

Steve - Your grades seem to be totally accurate. For the last two years I have thought that Wimbledon had slowed the courts too much. but if it can produce the men's final that we just witnessed, perhaps they have it about right. Federer and Nadal have to be two of the quickest players in the history of the game. Fed's 10 MPH faster serve neutralized Nadal's great groundies - and his serves in the 7th game of the 5th set were awesome. Nadal did not even flinch on the last ace.
Djokovic's pounding of his chest as he defaulted to Nadal was a real show of bravado - he still has some maturing to do.Can't NBC find somone better than Ted Robinson? Tomas Berdyich looked totally lost out there.

Posted by Veruca Salt 07/09/2007 at 06:51 PM

Nalbandian-a D for bowing out so meekly at a tournament where he was once a finalist.

Daveydenko-a C- for being bored and playing bored. Grass is only for a cow named Juliet, Koyla. Grass is good. Embrace the grass.

Safin-a D. The downward spiral continues. It would have been an D minus but at least he took Rog to a tiebreak.

Mauresmo- a C. The conversation about her nerves is going to come up again, now.

Benneteau- an F. For being the player that received the biggest fine of the tourney.

U.S Doubles teams- a B- great they went deep in the draw despite the scheduling. Bad they were upset by teams they should have won againt.

Donald Young-an A for winning his first Wimby title!!!

Posted by Megan 07/09/2007 at 06:58 PM

Samantha - Thanks for providing the context on Bjorkman's behavior; I found it quite shocking, and that was just the English-speaking part! One of the commentators also mentioned that he has refused to shake the umpire's hand in several previous matches. And here I was thinking he was such a nice guy...

Great post, Steve. On Fed's meltdown over Hawkeye, I didn't find it bad or boorish behavior, but I was annoyed with him for losing his way and becoming so whiny. Usually he gets over questionable calls right away, and this time, I remember thinking: "Oh no, Rafa has managed to turn the Fed into a whiny little boy." Fortunately, he recovered - JMac thinks Nadal's injury time-out gave Fed a chance to regroup.

Loved all the tidbits in your post, esp. about the newly serene Borg and Nadal's great hands, instinct, and shot-making. Hopefully, with such a worthy and hungry rival breathing down his neck, Roger will lose some of his stubbornness and will more readily adapt his tactics and keep working to improve his own game.

Posted by Sophia 07/09/2007 at 07:05 PM

Tangi - I saw Roddick and Connors practising at Queen's and Jimmy also did quite a lot of commentating & analysing for the BBC, as he has done for the past few years. (He is superb, especially when they get him and JMac together!) Connors and Andy seem to have quite a strong bond and Jimmy really believes in Andy. He has said many times that wants Andy to win as much as he used to want himself to win and he has also spoken about how much he enjoys being back in the game and coaching Roddick.

I really don't think he's going anywhere. As long as Andy works hard, I think he'll have Connors firmly by his side. As I said in my report from Queen's, I think there is a lot more to this relationship than simply tactics and technique. Connors seems to have a real confident yet calming influence upon Andy and Andy has given Jimmy the opportunity to become emotionally involved with the game once more. I can see these two together for quite a while.

Posted by 07/09/2007 at 07:10 PM

Here's an interesting piece with the Hawkeye inventor (predictably) defending his technology.
www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article2051307.ece
He claims that the Nadal shot that Federer complained about was in by 1 mm, and that "the ball was definitely in". At the same time, Hawkeye's margin of error is 3 mm - greater than the 1 mm by which the ball was in. So how can he say for sure?

Posted by Megan 07/09/2007 at 07:23 PM

Well-deserved grade of F to the All-England Club. Yesterday, club officials seemed insufferably smug that the tournament had ended on schedule, totally disregarding the unfairness to some of the players. But, Wimbledon officials do have a way of stoutly defending their old traditions, right up until the moment they abandon them. So here's hoping that next year, the idle middle Sunday will have become history.

Posted by zola 07/09/2007 at 07:26 PM

Steve,
How wonderful is to read these grades. Spot on! point by point. From Federer's refusal to accept his colleagues as equals, to ESPN's coverage and that fiasco of organization: wimbledon.

(You did not grade NBC? I would say C. The reason they do't get F is because they showed the final live)

Of course one minor disagreement. I would give Rafa A+. He put his heart and soul in this tournament. Arriving two days after FO to the Queens club and going through a gruesome draw and emotional battles with rain, soderling, etc....while blogging every night to his fans ( after blogging for two weeks from Wimbledon). Who has done so much for tennis? So maybe you can forego those 4 break points for his other efforts and change his grade to A+. Therer were two winners on Sunday!

Posted by omar 07/09/2007 at 07:32 PM

Steve,

Borg wasn't bitter,if anything it's the exact opposite. He just went thru a period in his life where he stopped caring anything about tennis. He was too busy trying to create another life. He wanted to get as far away from the game as possible, which included dumping his tennis wife Mariana and his second father, coach Bergelin.

Now that he's over 50, he has a perspective about things. And to imply him calling Roger in 2001 was a sign about how he wasn't at peace with his place in the game is a reach on your part. Borg probably hasn't said 10 words to you your whole life, but yet you profess to know the deeper meaning behind why he called Roger.

The idea that maybe he just appreciated Roger's incredible performance is too obvious to believe, huh? Borg was and remains a mystery; a tennis mystic, who's early retirement added to his mystique more than it took away.

Think about it; Fed never saw Borg play, but yet he lists Borg as his favorite player ever after Sampras. I'm kinda curious how he became such a big Borg fan. Maybe his ex-coach, who is Swedish, told him some stories.

Posted by tangerine popsicle (tangi) 07/09/2007 at 07:40 PM

Gasquet moved up to #7 in the ATP rankings (up from #14). Wouldn't that be his first appearance in the top ten? It must be a big day for him and a relief to finally achieve something that's been expected of him for so long.

Posted by Steve- 07/09/2007 at 07:42 PM
Posted by Andrea 07/09/2007 at 07:45 PM

Steve-
Glad you felt the same way about the Gillette ad!
Also, NBC deserves an 'F' for the mess with Saturday's men's finals. They could have broadcasted those live before the Ladies' final.

Posted by Inkblot 07/09/2007 at 07:58 PM


Anonymous - you are correct that his statement seems contradictory. People have pointed out that factors such as sudden gusts of wind can cause Hawkeye to be slightly off as well. But it strikes me that there's also a design flaw if I understand the author's explanation here (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/6227096.stm) correctly. They say the extent of ball deformation is adjusted for an assumed 8 mm of grass. But the only time the grass is uniformly 8mm is on opening day. By the end of the tourney there's nary a blade of grass on the baseline. Does Hawkeye adjust for that? Unlikely, since the wear and tear is not consistent and constantly changing. I think this might make the margin of error even higher than 3mm on different parts of the court.

Posted by Tennis Mama 07/09/2007 at 08:10 PM

Dear Steve,

You are THE man!! I really enjoy reading your spot-on analysis of the final and I'm so glad you articulated what I've always felt about Federer's refusal to acknowledge Nadal's talent. After reading Peter Bodo's and your recap of this tournament, I can finally put it behind me. Looking forward to the next Rafa-Fed showdown!!

Posted by tangerine popsicle (tangi) 07/09/2007 at 08:11 PM

ESPN Classic is showing yesterday's Wimby final w/Dick Enberg and Patrick McEnroe commentating. It came on at 7 p.m. CST.

I love the Gillette commercial! What's not to like? It's wonderful to see Roger finally getting some recognition.

Posted by Tennis Mama 07/09/2007 at 08:12 PM

Dear Steve,

You are THE man!! I really enjoy reading your spot-on analysis of the final and I'm so glad you articulated what I've always felt about Federer's refusal to acknowledge Nadal's talent. After reading Peter Bodo's and your recap of this tournament, I can finally put it behind me. Looking forward to the next Rafa-Fed showdown!!

Posted by carlee 07/09/2007 at 08:15 PM

Mary Carillo always gets an A+ in my book she is the best commentattor in the business, I love her concise perspective on the game whether is men's or women's color commentary so shakepearean like !!!!!!!!

Posted by aurorharry 07/09/2007 at 08:20 PM

Spot on, as usual, Steve. "The shot of him hanging his head, hair in his eyes, as he sat on the sidelines is the most poignant moment of the tennis year so far—the one-man whirlwind of energy was spent, physically and emotionally."

Where can I find this picture?

Posted by Sher 07/09/2007 at 08:21 PM

I can't believe ESPN gets B+. FOR WHAT? They allocated 9 hours per day, that's true, but then they showed either commentators babbling or Serena Williams falling over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

Anyway, I also don't feel the whole middle Sunday thing was a good idea, but hey, hindsight. And I always used to like Wimbledon for giving players this extra day of rest, so I hope it doesn't go away -- it just needs to be adjusted for rainy Wimbledons.

Posted by tommy 07/09/2007 at 08:23 PM

The mens final was a great match. I think people were surprised it was that close, but Nadal matches up well with Federer. I don't think Rafa will make the Wimbledon final every year, though.

On the women's side, one of the strangest tournaments ever. Venus playing lousy, suddenly becomes great in round 4. Hantuchova folds up against an injured Serena. And Henin, who made every slam final last year, is up a set and a break in her semi, and falls apart.

Posted by C$ 07/09/2007 at 08:37 PM

well written, Steve.

the final between Fed and Rafa was definitely a win for the game of tennis and its fans. i agree that Fed was outplayed and his win was very "Sampras like" as far as the serve and winning the key points.

i think Fed definitely needs to make some adjustments to his game going forward to stay a step ahead of a constantly improving Rafa. thought McEnroe made a very astute observation talking about how Roger was playing Rafa's serve side to side (and hitting chest high) instead of taking an angle. this has been hurting him at the French too. i also think Fed needs to step up his fitness. not more bulky which would slow him down but more firm. i was really surprised how Rafa was so overpowering against him. i've come to expect this on clay but on grass was a surprise. looking forward to their rivalry.

would like to see ESPN go more behind the scenes.

not a fan of that commercial either and Henry is out of place as far as lack of accomplishments. i do like the Tiger-Fed commercial talking how he was two up on titles. the Federer Rolex commercial is awesome. that "Air Jordan like" jumping back hand volley in slow-mo is a magnificent sight.

Posted by andrew 07/09/2007 at 08:39 PM

How about F for NBC for firing Bud Collins after 35 years! At a place known for tradition, you just do not fire the walking tennis library.

Shame on NBC!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by anna 07/09/2007 at 08:43 PM

Wow I just read the article and some postings.I had no idea people felt so negative about Fed.Ugh.What a downer.Roger refusing to ecognize others talents;youre kidding those of you who said that,he talks up his opponents all the time! What a bizarre experience reading this stuff.Sounds like you really don't like Roger,Steve.

Posted by rudy3 07/09/2007 at 08:54 PM

thank you Steve, great wrap up. I'm watching the ESPN replay right now, but i think I will skip the 5th set, and I will definitely skip the end and Rafa alone as you pointed out.

I agree with your take of the Gillette commercial, but that Tiger/Fed NIKE spot gets an A.

Question: Who has a bigger Wimbledon hangover Rafa or Roddick?

One other thing, as i watch this again, the crowd really really supported Rafa yesterday, far more than in Paris. I remember in the 5th set a man called out "Keep fighting Rafa!".


Posted by therogerandrafashow 07/09/2007 at 09:08 PM

do matches such as yesterday's final make it onto dvd for sale somewhere?

Posted by Pierre Des Joachims 07/09/2007 at 09:09 PM

OK, I keep reading that Nadal closed the gap, I am trying to figure out what that means.

If it means that the final was close, that is true.

I was actually hoping Nadal would win, just to shake things up. But since the final, I find myself more convinced of Federer’s superiority as the true number 1 in the world, and also as the most versatile player today.

Nadal still hasn’t beaten Federer on grass, but this year Federer beat Nadal on clay. So isn’t it Federer who is closing the gap?

I didn’t see anything at Wimbledon that would make me think Nadal would beat Federer on a faster court. But I did see glimpses that other players might beat Nadal on a faster court.

So if Nadal did close the gap on Federer, would you also say that Djokovic, Youzhny, and Soderling closed the gap on Nadal?

Posted by skip1515 07/09/2007 at 09:13 PM

I appreciate the report card grades, Steve, and agree with you for the most part.

One thing I'd like to add: Federer may be the greatest defensive attacking player we're ever seen. His ability to stay in points, not always in a beautiful way, but nonetheless get the ball in play, contributed to his win in a big way.

It's worth noting that neither of his match points came to him via winners. Both developed when Nadal missed mid-court balls. If memory serves, on the first deuce Federer jagged back a wide backhand, most definitely not gracefully, and Nadal missed his forehand.

On both match points Federer got aggressive on Nadal's 2nd serves, something he's been criticised for not doing in the past, and it took two match points for that to bear fruit. But it was defense that got him to that point.

It's easy to paint these two as Yin and Yang, offense and defense, but it's not the whole picture.

Posted by jhurwi 07/09/2007 at 09:34 PM

Let's give Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic an A+ for providing the most purely enjoyable match of the tournament for the Wimbledon fans-- Jelena's smile was infectious, even if she had been cranky after her loss to Bartoli.
And for me the Gasquet/Roddick match was the most enjoyable of the "serious" matches-- I don't enjoy Federer/Nadal matches because I'm too nervous, but since I didn't have any expectations of Gasquet I could just marvel at his comeback and those beautiful backhand passing shots. And then, exhausted and limping as he was, he outplayed Federer in the first set of their semifinal. Can't we give him an A instead of an A-?

Posted by 07/09/2007 at 09:36 PM

Amen Pierre....

it's a given that their matches will be close from now on. the win is most important.

Posted by nica 07/09/2007 at 09:50 PM

I give the Nike commercial A+, especially since they taped the second one updated with Roger's 11 grand slams.

I am typically a big Ted Robinson fan but can he stop kissing McEnroe's a$$? Even a non-tennis fan had the same reaction.

Mauresmo C-???

Posted by Suresh 07/09/2007 at 09:50 PM

Due to family emergency could not follow the message board here nor the Wimbledon completely - but did watch the final though.

I felt Nadal has improved a lot and deserved to win - to put it bluntly Federer got lucky. He showed enough pluck to hang in there and grab the opportunities that came his way . His serving helped pull him through and in this respect as Steve mentioned it was more a Sampras like performance from him.

Federer won the third set against the run of play - ditto with the fifth set.

Federer raised the bar , it seems Nadal is closing in on it really fast - we have to wait and see if either one can raise it further or will they battle back and forth in their future matchups.

Posted by vivia 07/09/2007 at 09:56 PM

Well, I don’t agree with some of what you have written.
Just to mention a few, I think Fed is right in not accepting Rafa as a worthy equal until this final, although he respects Rafa immensely.
Before this final, Rafa has not demonstrated that he could win Grand Slams on any surface but clay. While he got to the final last year, he did not really play well. But this final, he did really well and prove that beside clay, he was as good as Fed on grass.

I felt that Fed was under more pressure than Rafa in this final. The reason you gave on being a 4 time champion probably added to the pressure rather than provided experience. Rafa had nothing to lose and everything to gain, potential world no. 1 , RG and wim double. Fed had so many greats watching, no. 1 ranking at risk, equaling Borg's achievement, rafa breathing down his neck...

It really looks like Rafa is your blue-eyed boy… you seem more heartbroken that Rafa has lost than Fed has won. Well, don’t worry, he will have many chances in the next few years.

As for not playing on Middle Sunday, security may be part of the reason due to the bomb threats and Diana’s concert. I am certainly more concerned over the public’s safety than players having to play everyday or not at all.

Sorry about going on at length...

To C$, Henry might not be well known in USA, but in the rest of the world, he is probably better known. He has won a World Cup, Euro Cup, multiple domestic titles. I think in terms of accomplishments, Henry has accomplished more than Federer and Tiger.

Posted by Pierre Des Joachims 07/09/2007 at 10:04 PM

“Amen”, thank you for agreeing with me. You are obviously a person of wisdom and class.

Nadal was oh-for-one on grass against Federer. Now he is oh-for-two. To me, that’s a bigger gap than before. It’s the win that counts, and Nadal still doesn’t have one.

Sorry Nadal fans, he is a great guy, and he and Carlos Moya are both on the short list for Greatest Mallorcan Tennis Player of All Time. But when Federer beats him, the gap gets bigger, not smaller.

Posted by 07/09/2007 at 10:07 PM

>>They say the extent of ball deformation is adjusted for an assumed 8 mm of grass. But the only time the grass is uniformly 8mm is on opening day. By the end of the tourney there's nary a blade of grass on the baseline. Does Hawkeye adjust for that? Unlikely, since the wear and tear is not consistent and constantly changing. I think this might make the margin of error even higher than 3mm on different parts of the court.

Inkblot - this is really interesting. Assuming a certain uniform length of grass is the kind of thing that makes Hawkeye pronouncements mighty dubious. At Wimbledon this year, the success rate of challenges was lower than in other tournaments. Was this because the players' vision suddenly deteriorated at this tournament, or because of questionable assumptions built into the Hawkeye model? Perhaps we shouldn't so unquestioningly embrace an "evolving" technology.

Posted by zola 07/09/2007 at 10:12 PM

****Sorry Nadal fans, he is a great guy, and he and Carlos Moya are both on the short list for Greatest Mallorcan Tennis Player of All Time. But when Federer beats him, the gap gets bigger, not smaller.*****


seems NAdal's level of play and the scare he gave to Federer has hit some nerves!

Posted by Daidra 07/09/2007 at 10:15 PM

Excellent post, Steve. And I agree about Ted R., but give him this: He did have NBC's best one-liner about Federer ("Next year, he'll have a hat.")

Posted by VV Varaiya 07/09/2007 at 10:20 PM

Where was Mirka? Has Roger split with her?

Do you know why Roger struggled against Nadal the first 2 sets? (He really should have lost the fist set.) He can't read Nadal's strokes -- Nadal superbly disguised where he was going to hit.

Posted by kiwibee 07/09/2007 at 10:29 PM

I give NBC an F. Period.

Posted by Joe 07/09/2007 at 10:32 PM

Give HawkEye an F+ or D-

That article linked above at 7:11 is pretty disturbing, and Ink Blot's post also. The guy who makes loads of money off of HawkEye is quite positive that the shot was good by 1 mm, although the margin of eror is 3 mm? What the %&^*@!? And isn't there a conflict of interest when the guy who validates HawkEye is the same guy who sells it? Yet the tournaments all seem to have jumped in head first, because of "fan interest". Well, if that's all that's important, why not let the fans vote on whether the ball is in or out? It's all about fan entertainment, right?

Posted by kayla 07/09/2007 at 10:33 PM

be more original and stop copying off of jon wertheim doing a 'report card'...puhleeze...

Posted by Hazel 07/09/2007 at 10:34 PM

We've seen Rafa progress on both clay and grass (I don't read too much into Fed's Hamburg win) and I'm very looking forward to the hard court season and kind of positive that Rafa can make progress on hard court.

The young guns can threaten bothe Rafa and Fed. It's good for the sport.

Never ever underestimate Rafa's determination and his talents He's seeking progress every day.

Posted by Ren 07/09/2007 at 10:36 PM

You must be a good teacher, knowing when to give A+ and wnen not to. I just wonder about how you're supposed to rate the following:

1. Serena Williams (or her match with Hantuchova)- After all the brouhaha on gamesmanship and the quality of that match, Serena or the match deserve a grade at least.

2. The Pundits who did not believe in the Williamses' seeming ineherent power to do marvelous tennis.

3. And of course, Soderling.

I'd like to give the ff some grades:

1. Djocko - a "D": for dropping
2. Haas - a "W" for withdrawal
3. The Weather- an "F" for frustrating.

See ya, in the next slam!

Posted by weblover 07/09/2007 at 10:53 PM


You can pay $24.99 on the Wimbledon website and download the
Men's Final as a Windows Media Video (WMV) file onto your PC.

Posted by daylily 07/09/2007 at 10:54 PM

steve, i don't know that i'll ever be able to look at that photo of rafa again. it broke my heart. thank you for saying such nice things about him on the many occasions that you do.

i hope rafa is feeling better about this today than i do. still pretty devastated. he says he bounces right back -- but this one would be a difficult loss to absorb.

Posted by zola 07/09/2007 at 10:55 PM

Suresh
I hope things are allright with your family....


vivia,
you just made one excuse that IAn Ritchie could not come up with. "Public security!".You should have mentioned it before and I bet wimbledon organizers would have jumped on it!

come on! that was a bad decision and had nothing to do with public security. They just didn't look at the forecast!

Posted by truth 07/09/2007 at 11:07 PM

Enough with the 3mm. No human could call a ball traveling 80-130 mph accurately within 8mm. Let alone 3mm. Give it a break. Hawkeye's here to stay, and I'm glad for it. Champions follow-up bad calls with an ace or outright winner, not petulance.


Posted by Edward 07/09/2007 at 11:08 PM

I dont want to take credit from rafa...

But he had to play two five setters to reach the final, and if youzny hadnt been hurt in his back.. the history might be diferent, berdych wasnt able to control the windy conditions and he wasnt generating anything with his flat forehand that is usually the stroke that hurts rafa...
Also, Djokovic.. was hurt from his previous matches...

Federer didnt look so sharp as he usually is in the tournament maybe because the grass was slower or the fact that he had withdral from Halle...

In my opinion Rafa proved he can resist both mentally and physically anything..! but im not that convinced in his grass game... but federer told he was getting better.. so who knows..

Posted by Russ 07/09/2007 at 11:11 PM

Hey therogerandrafashow,

Try tennisdvdwarehouse.com

They will have it.

Good luck,

Russ.

Posted by truth 07/09/2007 at 11:14 PM

Edward,

What kind of a ridulous scenario are you proposing? That's three immensely huge what if's. That's almost half his tournament. Comeon. Give the Bull his due. He earned his spot. You know it, I know it, and even Roger knows it.

Oh, and while you're on the topic, what if Haas hadn't come up lame?

Posted by the real truth! 07/09/2007 at 11:17 PM

Uh, earth to "truth" - champions overcome bad calls by lifting the TROPHY, buddy!! Surely even weak-minded, sour-grapes viewers recognize who it was that won Wimbledon? The five-time Wimbledon champion, and that's the TRUTH! If that's petulance, betcha all the other 127 players in the field had a healthy dose of petulance, huh?

Oh, and about Hawk Eye, Nadal also has been plenty of vocal beefs about it, so the petulance, if any, about its accuracy, have been pretty even-handed.

But why try to reason with petulant fans venting their sour grapes? Go on whining and screeching, "truth", the real fans of tennis are having the last laugh...

Posted by the real truth! 07/09/2007 at 11:21 PM

"what if Haas hadn't come up lame?"

earth to "truth" again: dude, you ARE talking about the Tommy Haas that last defeated the Fed back in Jan. 2002, right? Yeah, I'm sure Fed was sweating buckets about the prospect of facing him. LOL, truth, you're coming up with some doozies tonight - keep 'em rolling - we need the laughs!!!

Federer: the 11-time GS champion, and counting, baby...

Posted by vladh0007 07/09/2007 at 11:29 PM

Nice Post---Steve
Federer,aka Houdini, is stubborn,,you hit the nail on the head. He needs a top flight coach or see him become #2 to Rafa. I still find him wanting in shot selection and strategy...even on grass.A prime example of his gifts to Nadal was his poor returns in the ad court.He waited until the 5th set to run around his backhand and hit a solid forehand on second serve.He volleyed poorly on his forehand side which contributed to his 4th set loss. The indomitable backcourt Federer stopped practising his volleys both in training and in games...and it showed.He could have used the momentum of his 3rd set win to close it out in the 4th.Another example: Nadal thrives on pace...so try not to give it to him by taking pace off and using more top spin.Approach shots should be sliced-and many should be hit down the middle. How many times did Federer wrong foot Nadal? I can't think of any.
As to the All England Club---shame for not putting on any matches on middle Sunday--totally irresponsible. By the way, check the record, they HAVE played on the middle Sunday one year...cannot remember which!
VH

Posted by Megan 07/09/2007 at 11:45 PM

>>>>they HAVE played on the middle Sunday one year...cannot remember which!

It has happened three times in W history, but this year, they decided on Saturday that they were sufficiently "on schedule" not to play on Sunday. Horrible decision, given the awful weather forecast for the coming days.

Posted by Christopher 07/10/2007 at 12:00 AM

"Where was Mirka? Has Roger split with her?"

Heaven forfend! She was there at the match and with him at the Champion's Ball.

Posted by abbey 07/10/2007 at 12:07 AM

steve, i didn't cry after the finals but you sure brought tears to my eyes with your post, especially this one:

"The shot of him hanging his head, hair in his eyes, as he sat on the sidelines is the most poignant moment of the tennis year so far—the one-man whirlwind of energy was spent, physically and emotionally."

*hugs rafa*

Posted by C$ 07/10/2007 at 12:22 AM

I'm confused how a couple people think that because Federer won yesterday it is an indication that the gap between the two is getting wider?

VV, Mirka was there sitting next to mama Fed.

vivia, i am a huge football (soccer) fan, a fan of Henry, and respect your knowledge of him. But Henry has never won Player of the Year (the most prestigious individual award) and never led Arsenal to a Champions League title (most prestigious club award). i'll give you World Cup but that team was led by Zidane not Henry. i understand why they selected him to be a part of that triumvirate, because of his well rounded nature (and agree he does have name recognition abroad), but sport accomplishment wise--though it's hard to compare team to individual sports--Tiger and Federer are in a league of their own.

Posted by zola 07/10/2007 at 12:26 AM

truth

You see how "what if" s are listed to discredit Rafa's win. not even mentioning what he went through to be able to face Youzhny/Berdych/Djokovic/Federer.

Yeah, what if GAsquet was not inhured? what if Ferrero's run on Federer was not interrupted by rain? what if Tommy Haas had played? What if Rafa did not have to play best of 5's 7 days in a row to injur his knee?

It has come to a point that even Federer feels he has to give due credit to RAfa. Too bad some of his supporters can't!

Posted by nik 07/10/2007 at 12:33 AM

i think actually the reverse has happened in the finals and rog has finally figured out rafa's game. fed i think will run around his backhand return for the most part on both sides and hit big forehand returns down the middle or crosscourt for better margain and rifle the short reply or angle it away or come to net and finish the point. rafa's serve is not that strong and in the fifth set even if fed made the move to run around his backhand to hit a return and rafa served to fed's forehand side he was still able to hit better returns with more depth and pace then his backhand returns. Also i think returning deep against nadal is the key or he crushes the next ball with heavy topsin forehand that puts even roger almost always in a losing situation. Federer's usaully blocked bh returns and even his slice bh returns are not good enough if he can't get it in the last two feet lenghtwise of the court or if he doesn't hit a great angle. short slice or dropshot to nadal's backhand is effective because rafa usaually hits a weaker slice reply to it and finds it uncomfortable to hit like the one time fed did it in the match and when murray had so much success with it against rafa at AO. also fed will probably serve and volley more against rafa because for the most part rafa's bh return is a liability due to how he slices it and doesn't usually make contact cleanly when he blocks or drives it. also fed might need to work on his bh a little more b/c it seems to be landing short against the heavy forehand of nadal and was misfiring for the tournament. maybe just bad day but fed wasn't really putting much topsin in regualr bh groundies only when he had a passing shot or a lot of time was he using topsin. It was a great match thought rafa was going to win.

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2007 at 12:46 AM

Oh please Samantha...keep Cliffie to yourself. Good final, good matches, bad wimbledon.

Posted by Andrea 07/10/2007 at 01:06 AM

Pierre Des Joachims -
***But since the final, I find myself more convinced of Federer’s superiority as the true number 1 in the world, and also as the most versatile player today.
Nadal still hasn’t beaten Federer on grass, but this year Federer beat Nadal on clay. So isn’t it Federer who is closing the gap? ***

Federer has always been the most versatile player playing today, the final didn't need to prove that. Nadal gave him a heck of a run for his money on Federer's favorite surface.

As for Fed beating Nadal on clay, and Rafa not beating him on grass:
1)They have the chance to meet 4 times on clay each year.
2)Only 1 chance to meet on grass- final of Wimby.
3)3 out of their potential 4 meetings on clay are best of three sets. Only RG is best of 5. The 2 out of 3 format is advatageous for Federer.

As for Youzny, Berdych, Djokovic closing the gap against Rafa:
1)Before their match at Wimby, both Youzny and Berdych held the lead head-to-head and Rafa leveled it, therefore it was Rafa who closed the gap, figured them out, got the monkeys off his back, so on and so forth...

Posted by the real truth! 07/10/2007 at 01:18 AM

>>It has come to a point that even Federer feels he has to give due credit to RAfa. Too bad some of his supporters can't!

And too bad some of Nadal's supporters are sulking and making excuses, and not giving Federer due credit. Here's what "truth" had to say about Fed: "Champions follow-up bad calls with an ace or outright winner, not petulance." So Fed is just a petulant loser, is he? (Too bad he's the one hoisting the trophy in the end, isn't it?) And Rafa has never contested a close call before? Didn't Rafa insist that the umpire overrule Hawk Eye earlier this year, in Dubai? But it's not petulance when he questions Hawk Eye?

Come on, guys, Rafa himself is classy and deserves classy fans, not cry-babies and whiners.

Posted by rudy3 07/10/2007 at 01:32 AM

Truth,

Come on dude, its a tough day, no need to bully Rafa's fans.

The fact of the matter is whoever made it through the lower half of the draw was going to be at a disadvantage in the final. Djokovic won a set in the semi, if Rafa had imploded and Djoko came through, what kind of a final would that have been. Fed would have crunched him like dry wood.

It was a great match, and Fed won his 11th slam title, but Rafa was close, if he had converted 1 of those break points, who knows.

Posted by 07/10/2007 at 02:31 AM

Here's another little fact that I came upon-
Nadal has only played 25 matches on grass in his entire career.
Just a thought to think about in the 'Who will win the other slam first debate'.

Posted by Orpheo 07/10/2007 at 02:51 AM

Nice one steve i pretty much agree on your grades just think you missed a couple players

Can anyone tell me where i can find the mcenroe comments or analysis it seems the nbc page doesnt have them,...thanks

Posted by michael 07/10/2007 at 04:08 AM

Sorry, Rafa gets an A+ to me. He played and incredible tournament and a great final! He had to endure rain delays, play every single day, and still got to the final and really played amazing tennis. And although he had the knee injury in the fourth set in the final, he still finised it. Anything under an A+ is wrong.

RAFA A++++++++++++++

Posted by felizjulianidad 07/10/2007 at 06:01 AM

Let me add:

B+ for Juan Carlos Ferrero. The former World Number One made his best performance yet on grass, and was unlucky to run into Roger Federer, the greatest player of our time, and possibly all time. Yet he still brought it to the champion for two sets--in my opinion, outplaying him, and showing some truly fine tennis. Then he fell apart at the same time that Federer raised his level. I do remember in 2003-2004, when he, Roddick and Federer were the rising stars of a new tennis order. Roddick turned out to be one-dimensional, Federer's talent exploded, and Ferrero's body just gave out on him when he was proving some serious skills. So great to see him back.

Oh. As for commercials, amazing how Ronaldinho, Nadal and Gasol pulled off a better commercial than the three titans you mentioned.

Posted by therogerandrafashow 07/10/2007 at 06:59 AM

thank you russ and weblover.

Posted by michael 07/10/2007 at 06:59 AM

geez!!!!! give Nadal an A+

Even Federer said that Nadal deserved the trophy as well.

You give Novak Djokovic and Bartoli a B+? That is almost an A.

A++++++ for Nadal, for a great final with some amazing tennis. Too bad for that knee injury, but maybe it's because he played every single day,5 sets tennis matches everyday? and still playes an amazing final. A+++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted by Ava-fan of Rafa 07/10/2007 at 07:38 AM

I don't care if anyone agrees with me, RAFA WILL WIN WIMBLEDON ONE DAY(Jon Werthiem agrees with me too). He has shown more heart and willingness to adapt to other surfaces than any of the Youzhnys, Berdychs, Roddicks or Djokovics. That is what makes him stand out...he does not hesitate to change his game to win.

And for all those people who thinks that Rafa has made not improved on clay, watch the 2006 final and then watch all of Rafa's matches including the final again. You will see how much better he is playing.

A word of appreciation for his heart and willingness would be nice(this is for those who thinks that Rafa has made no improvement).
VAMOS RAFA

Posted by EmBug2 07/10/2007 at 07:53 AM

What a great wrapup, Steve. You're right on... Federer squeaked this out by doing those three things you listed: served 24 aces, kept his unforced errors down, and won tiebreaks.

I work in tennis and our adult players and juniors must learn how crucial an alert and skillful player will pounce when the door stands ajar, and how unnecessary flamboyant points need be unless technique is accurate and well honed. These three actions sound somewhat simple, but aren't easy. Being alone on court to fight the battle of attrition is tricky, unless, of course, you're Miss Henin, whose averted glances up to Carlos should be shown to chair umpires for training purposes.

And, speaking of chair umpires, why oh why don't they call Rafa on his lagging sense of time between points? He does make everyone wait. Soderling was right! If the ruling is 25 seconds, then it's 25 seconds. What's tough about something this precise? Why is Rafa being treated with kid gloves? Therefore, Chair Umpires get a D-. Hand Rafa the sanction... do the job!

embug

Posted by 07/10/2007 at 07:53 AM

Felizjulianidad,
I debated on B or B+ for Ferrero. Could not give him the B+ because Baghdatis played a 5-set thriller.

Posted by patrick 07/10/2007 at 07:54 AM

That post at 7:53 AM was mine.

Posted by sophie 07/10/2007 at 08:22 AM

Who is top of the class? A+ Federer - he led all the way, 1/0, 1/1, 2/1, 2/2, 3/2 and Nadal was playing catch up.

Nadal gets A for coming second and being a worthy runner up and giving the champion a run for his money.

Nobody gets A-.

Gasquet gets B+ for getting to the SF and for defeating Roddick, and Djokovic a B for not sticking it out because he blew a 2 set lead and a break v Baghdatis and got into a 5 hour match.

All the QF get a B, except Roddick B- for doing the same as Djokovic, but losing. And next time perhaps organisers will give a 7th seed (Berdych) a chance to play on a show court before a QF, instead of throwing on has beens, or lower seeded players.

Venus gets A+ for winning, and Bertoli A for reaching the final.

Ivanovic and Henin made it to the semis and just about squeak a B for survival.


Posted by steveintheknow 07/10/2007 at 08:27 AM

True that on Ted Robinson, not everything is UNBELEIVABLE!!!...nor is everything like another sport that happens to only be popular in America, who was that other joker?


As far as NBC, well that is a Constitutional Crime. Who cares if they didn't have enough time to gauge a few sponsors for the Saturday schedule. Showing Paid Programming, and preventing anyone else from broadcasting the semis live is retarded. I hope that the slams will review their contracts with those a%^&^%^, and correct this little problem.

Other then that, Amazing. I can't wait for The Open.

Posted by ACS 07/10/2007 at 08:46 AM

Love the Vinnie Johnson reference. Where have all the clever nicknames gone? "TO" and "A-Rod" just don't compare to the classic descriptive zaniness of "The Microwave." It's yet another reason we still need Bud Collins.

Posted by doowaadaddynz 07/10/2007 at 08:49 AM

Thank you Samantha for clearing up the Jonas Bjorkman thing for me. I always thought he was a nice guy, silly me.

There's another thing I want to clear up too. Apparently Roger started trash talking to Rafa just after the incident with Hawkeye in the fourth set. I saw him talking on court but couldn't make out what he was saying or who he was saying it to.

However, when he went back to his chair I heard him ask the umpire how the ball could possibly have been in.

Then I clearly heard him say, "Shit, this thing is killing me today"

But I would love to know what he said out on court

What did he say and were his comments directed at Rafa?

Posted by The Original French(ie) 07/10/2007 at 08:57 AM

NIKOLAI deserves an "A" for his performance at Wimby this year! He also deserves a "C" for his lack of diplomacy (or is it common sense) about his public comments on "boring Wimbledon" etc. So if we take the 2, in the end that's a = "B" for me. He lost 1 spot, now ranks 5.

CANAS = "B", that guy can play on grass that's for sure. As of now he is number 16 and the hard court season hasn't begun yet. I'm wondering where he'll be at then end of the year. Quite close to the top 10.

SAFIN = "B", (yep I know), he's long lost self was back too late during his match against the Fed but it was great to watch him again on a central court. In the end it was not enough but it was far from being shameful(and on grass, who knew?). He even got up two ranks, now pointing at number 22. Looking forward to the hardcourt season. Also, he should get a proper coach: he still has some good tennis in his tank.

HEWITT = "C", a former Championship winner who fought like hell against Djoko, but could not go through. Arg, very very disappointing even if the match was great and The Djoko looked imperious at times.

SÖDERLING = "C" (and not worse), well he lost didn't he? Gained two spots though, and is now ranked 26, a fair result for his challenging (with tennis shots NOT the rest) of Rafa.

BAGHDATIS = "B-", lost points when they mattered the most but since it was against the Ironman from Serbia, that's not too bad. Loved the Sportmanship, always a treat to watch him play.

DJOKOVIC = "C",I'm sorry I still can't fathom the retirement, and this after WINNING the first set agaisnt Rafa. ¤%&#"!%. Ok, he was injured and played a trillion hours in fantastic matches. sorry, "##¤¤%%&/! HE IS THE NEW NUMBER 3.

RODDICK = "D" (yeah I know), had the match wrapped up and then... well we all saw what happened. HUGE disappointment hence the "D". I believe his got another slam win in him and wish him the best very soon.

GASQUET = "A+", ahh the French wonder at play. Fantastic game and coming back at a strategic time like that against A-Rod while shaking his own little "monkey" off his back at the same time. Priceless. He is now NUMBER 7. If I remember correctly some people had even started to write him off completely. Well done Rickie!!! Today, some people in French pressrooms must be eating their words...

The FED-RAFA = A+, great final, both great champions and I like the idea of this "CO-NUMBER 1" thingy, yeeehaaa for the hard court season to begin, we might get some surprises. Can't wait.

MAURESMO = "Z". No Comment

SANTORO = "A", for nothing in particular, just because he exists on this side of planet tennis.


Posted by SwissMaestro 07/10/2007 at 09:05 AM

Steve,

Your posts are sooooo much better than Bodo's you should be the main columnist. Thanks for providing them with insightful analysis and not just being biased towards Nadal. Great grading you did and also great explanation for it.

Posted by Jake 07/10/2007 at 09:05 AM

Justine shouldnt even get a B. She barely got by Serena and Serena was injured! Serena should have been given a B or higher for the way she played when she was injured. Shes the player to beat this summer.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 07/10/2007 at 09:05 AM

hei also, here are the new ads for the US Open Series: tennis players look quite good off court....

(theres #3-4 on the sidebar, and Rafa conducting a bus somewhere along..)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1fGky-B0sQ&NR=1

Posted by Daniel Amiro 07/10/2007 at 09:24 AM

I have some questions...

1 - Why Federer didn't come to the net more? (A - Because Nadal early passing shots were amazing)
2 - Why Federer did not use the slice more? Like the point in that he broke Nadal's service in the fifth.
3 - Despite being a Federer fan when i watch a game between then i believe (like Federer) that they are in the same level now in any surface (remember Hamburg). It's not like last year when Federer was clearly the first in the world and Nadal was clearly the second. So why Nadal does not dominate the other players (except on clay) as Federer does? (Remember Mahut, Soderling, Youzhny (he got luck))...

Posted by truth 07/10/2007 at 10:16 AM

fellow posters,

was i speaking swedish? no offense at at all intended to those who do. how on earth some of you took from my posts that i was a a nadal worshiper, i have no idea. but it appears that i have been misunderstood. let me interpret for those of you who are somewhat simple minded.

i was giving credit to rafa for playing a heck of a tournament. anyone claiming he was anything other than a deserving finalist i hope will be whipped with oodles of wet noodles. part of winning a grand slam is being fit enough to win several long matches in a week. he's shown time and time again that he can do it. he physically outlasted all of his opponents. all of whom were being touted as people who should beat him.

we can argue what if's all day long. bottom line is nadal got to the final. federer won. if nadal bashers are going to diminish rafa's accomplishments, then they should pony up and diminish the fed's. haas pulled out... so fed needed to play only 6 matches this time around. rafa played 7. to the person that claimed fed would have beaten haas anyway, i'm sure you (as i) never dreamed fed would lose to volandri in rome, or to canas twice in 2 weeks, or andy murray in cincy. that's why they play the tournament.
bottom line: who cares. both men did what they had to do to put themselves into a match on the final sunday and should be credited for it. no buts.

federer showed what a champion he is. but it makes him a greater man to acknowledge the fight of his competitors. this is why his performance during and after the match was worthy of a champion. and so was rafa's.

and i stand by my disdain for federer's conduct over the line call. i didn't like his whining. it's conduct unbecoming of a great champion. but as i pointed out, great champions get over it and win the match. and that's what he did.

Posted by 07/10/2007 at 11:33 AM

Rafa's blog...after his loss..
http://timesonline.typepad.com/rafael_nadal/

Posted by Rosita Chicita Mendozita 07/10/2007 at 11:33 AM

At 6-4 6-4 4-2 in the quarters against Gasquet, Roddick had an A + coming to him. I have never watched a bigger meltdown from Roddick. Just hold your serve and close the guy out. Crank up the mphs a little. Close him out emphatically. Don't give him any hope. Also, what about the tie breakers, Andy had won 18 in a row before he got crushed in two of them by Gasquet. What happened to him? Make some adjustments, do something, or just maybe play the way you had been playing for the entire tournament for 2-3 more games. He hadn't even lost a set before that. Total meltdown. I'm very dissapointed in Roddick. FFFFF!!!

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