Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - W: Report Cards
Home       About Steve Tignor       Contact        RSS        Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
W: Report Cards 07/08/2008 - 9:53 PM

RnWhen it was all over, when the only thing left to do was watch Brad Gilbert stand up, touchingly and awkwardly, and applaud for Rafael Nadal in the ESPN studios, I slouched back into the couch cushions, still sweating a little, and said, aloud, to no one: “Now I have to describe this?” Was it possible to do this match justice? Was it possible to give it a grade?

A few minutes later Nadal appeared in the pressroom. He was asked how he felt about his victory over Roger Federer, on Centre Court, after five hours and as many match points, 9-7 in the fifth set, with darkness surrounding him, for his first Wimbledon title. He answered in the only way that made any kind of sense: “Impossible to describe.” I thought: You’re right, Rafa, but you’re not helping.

It’s his job to play and mine to write. And can a tennis writer ask for anything better to write about than what happened at Wimbledon this past weekend? Let the A-pluses flow.

Rafael Nadal
The image of Nadal from Sunday that comes to my mind first is not of him pumping his fist, screaming “vamos!” or belting an inside-out forehand winner, though it’s easy to recall one of those if necessary. It’s of him holding the winner’s trophy in the dark on Centre Court, his face and the top of his white jacket lit up by a hundred flashbulbs, his headband gone and hair loose. This was a new Nadal. In the blink of an eye, he’d shed the pirate look and the beast of Mallorca image and taken on the bearing and style of a Wimbledon champion—albeit one who isn't above biting the trophy. He was no longer the world’s greatest No. 2, no longer the hard-working second-fiddle, no longer destined to be mentioned after the words those grand words, “Roger Federer.” Nadal is now part of the sport’s history and tradition in his own right. That’s what happens when you win on Centre Court. It’s why the all-time greats like Federer and Pete Sampras love this place the most—it made them. I could imagine seeing this photo of Rafa in 30 years, in the parade of Wimbledon champions from Jack Kramer to Roger Federer. “The Spanish great Nadal at Wimbledon,” the caption would read.

I said coming into Wimbledon that Nadal had a new aura about him, a No. 1-player’s aura, and he maintained it right until the end. Or almost until the end. He was the better player in the final, particularly once the rallies began, and could have won in straight sets. But like last year, he got tight at the finish line. Up two sets and tied at 3-3 in the third, Nadal played brilliantly to reach 0-40 on Federer’s serve. He may have let a brief vision of himself holding the trophy pass through his disciplined mind, because suddenly he couldn’t get the ball over the net, even on a forehand return of a second serve. Federer came back to hold, found his rhythm on his serve and forehand, and matched Nadal shot for shot the rest of the way.

Nadal got himself back to the brink again in the fourth set, only to suffer the same last-second nerves. Up 5-2 in the tiebreaker, with two serves coming, he double-faulted and dumped a routine backhand into the net. After the second shot, he showed one of the few traces of anger he would betray all afternoon, whipping his racquet like a fly-swatter. Again he pushed back to the brink, hitting one of the many, many shots of the match, a thread-the-needle forehand pass after a mad dash across the baseline. That brought him to match point, where he went with the percentages—swing serve to Federer’s backhand, swing approach to the same spot—and was beaten by Federer’s own thread-the-needle backhand pass into the corner.

At this point, Nadal could have been forgiven for wondering, Am I meant to win Wimbledon? As Nadal’s last return floated long to end the fourth set, I thought we may finally have discovered a weakness, a chink in the mental armor: Faced with the prospect of fulfilling his dream of winning the world’s biggest tournament, Nadal couldn’t close the deal. A couple points into the fifth set, I knew we'd found no such thing. Nadal came out and hit his first few backhands with the same gusto and confidence he’d shown on that shot all afternoon. By the time he’d held for 1-1, the fist-pumps were back. Somehow, the fact that his lifelong dreams had been horribly, cruelly crushed a few minutes earlier had been utterly forgotten.

The classic example of ice-in-the-veins willpower in tennis is Bjorn Borg’s victory in the fifth set of the 1980 Wimbledon final, after he had squandered multiple match points in the 18-16 fourth-set tiebreaker. His opponent that day, John McEnroe, has often wondered how Borg was capable of staying in the moment. Nadal’s achievement, while almost identical (this tiebreaker was 10-8 but equally heartbreaking), surpasses Borg’s for the simple fact that the Swede got to serve first in that fifth set, while Nadal had to serve second.

This is the equivalent of being the away team in extra innings in baseball. When you have to serve to stay in the match, you’re always just a couple of bad swings away from defeat. Nadal faced one break point in the final set, at 3-4. He took Federer’s return and drilled an inside-out forehand into the corner, then finished with an overhead and a fist-pump. Dick Enberg chuckled at the chutzpah: “Nadal has the guts of a daylight burglar,” he said. The term was apt: If he misses that go-for-broke forehand, he’s most likely just lost the Wimbledon final. He didn’t miss it. In the end, the match that I thought might reveal the limits of Nadal’s mental resources revealed the opposite. He had even more—more willpower in the head, more ice in the veins—than we knew.

What does Nadal’s win represent? Think back to David Foster Wallace’s allegedly brilliant essay from the NY Times two years ago, "Roger Federer as Religious Experience." I’ve brought this piece up before, but it’s worth revisiting because it’s representative of an attitude among traditionalist tennis aficionados, in my opinion. The setting was the 2006 Wimbledon final. Foster Wallace cast the calm, free-flowing, instinctive Federer as the modern-day manifestation of tennis genius. Nadal was summed up, in derogatory fashion, as a “martial” player, limited and earthbound compared to Federer. Could this article appear in a major publication and be lauded the same way now, after Sunday’s final? I don’t think so. Nadal has shown that tennis genius doesn’t have to be cool and free-flowing. It can be martial. It can be grinding. It can grunt. It can be unorthodox rather than elegant. It can have its roots in the grungy clay-court game yet still conquer the genteel grass version. It can wear pirate pants rather than cardigans. It can be all those things and still make you shake your head in awe, just as we do with Federer.

Think about the final game of the match, when Nadal attempted, after all the earlier failures and with the light speedily dimming, to serve it out at 8-7. He nervously sent his first forehand long. On the next point, he hit a serve wide, and, for the first time all match, followed it to the net, where he knocked off an easy volley. From some players, you might call this a bailout option, a way to avoid a nerve-wracking rally. From Nadal, it was the opposite: He saw that when he was trying to finish the match, the dynamics of the points were working against him—he was getting tight, playing the percentages, playing not to lose. So he changed the dynamic. It was a simple and gutsy—instinctive—move. If there’s such a thing as tennis genius, this was it.

What would a genius be without a little luck to help? On the final point, Nadal looked tight again as he popped a sitter backhand to Federer’s service line. It looked like a sure opportunity for Federer, and he closed on the ball. But it wasn’t where he thought it was going to be. It had taken a weird bounce and jumped right. Federer mistimed it and hit it weakly into the net. In the end, Nadal had triumphed on grass the old-fashioned way—with a bad hop.

I interviewed Nadal at Key Biscayne in 2006. He was antsy and guarded most of the time. But when I asked about Wimbledon, he became vehement. He made a fist and said, “I will do well at Wimbledon.” The year before, he had lost in the second round to Gilles Muller. I didn’t believe that this Spanish clay-courter would ever do much on grass. What I didn't know was that winning on clay, where he was supposed to win, didn’t get to the bottom of Rafael Nadal. He wanted to be a tennis champion. That meant winning on Centre Court. The photo proves it: He’s a tennis champion. A+

Men’s Final
Was this the greatest match of all time? SI’s Jon Wertheim had an unintentionally funny line when he was interviewed about it on the PBS Newshour yesterday. He said, “I’m usually pretty level-headed about these things, but I’m going to say unequivocally that this was the greatest match in tennis history.” I know what he means.

Rn2What are the elements that go into “greatest” matches? First there’s the level of play. The highest-quality match I had ever seen before yesterday was the 2007 Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. This beat it. By a lot. The winner to error ratios, particularly Nadal’s, were excellent, and Federer served like a dream. But it was the shots that didn’t become winners that were even more remarkable. So many balls that would have screamed past anyone else were returned, with authority. You won’t find them on the stat sheet.

It was tough to tell the opening of the first set from the closing of the fifth. At both times, Federer and Nadal were running full out and playing forcefully. It was go-for-broke tennis, but within intelligent limits; rallies consisted of a short series of probing jabs, quick moves up and back, and then a haymaker to end it. If one guy left a ball hanging, the other rifled it toward a corner every time. Nadal has improved his backhand from last year. He slaps through it with more flat pace than he gets on his forehand. Federer not only couldn’t break it down, he couldn’t push Nadal into his backhand corner and open up the court. Nadal played a version of the game he uses against Federer on clay, but he was more willing to go into the forehand corner and take risks even when he wasn’t positioned near the center of the court. He mixed up his serve constantly, and went to the body at the right moments. As for Federer, he started slowly but gained traction by giving a master class in grass-court tennis over the last three sets. Wide serve, forehand into open court: This is the modern equivalent of the serve and volley, and no one does it as effectively as Federer. He seems to love serving on Centre Court more than anywhere else.

Beyond the basics of tactics and execution, it was the style with which these two played that raised the match still further. Borg vs. McEnroe in 1980 was a long series of forays and angles; Sampras vs. Ivanisevic in 1998 was a long series of serves bulleted into the frames of the returners; Federer vs. Nadal was a series of topspin missiles that bent and dove in midair and landed in the farthest reaches of the court. For all their differences, if you just watched their strokes and the paths their shots took, you’d have a hard time telling who had hit what. Both swing with a violent upward motion around the head that carries their bodies off the ground. This co-style is how tennis circa 2008 will be remembered.

Of course, it’s the differences that made the match worth watching. Federer’s characteristic winner was a seemingly impossible forehand that he hit inside-out while floating away from the ball. A remarkable shot, since he gets almost none of his body into it. (In his own way, Federer blows up the textbook every bit as much as his opponent.) Nadal’s version of this shot was the crosscourt backhand that he consistently hammered with a completely open stance and his upper body jerked downward, in the opposite direction of the ball. He used this for offense, and also as a sort of goalie-style defensive shot when Federer sent a hard approach down the middle. In both cases, his control with it was uncanny.

In a “greatest” match, the high-quality play must be backed up with drama, personality, history. We had plenty of all three. The personalities and body languages, as always, were polar opposites: Nadal bustled around the court between points, chest out, brows furrowed; Federer leaned back as he flipped his feet in front of him with casual assurance. The history was tied to the same legend, Bjorn Borg, who was sitting in the stands: Federer was trying to break Borg’s modern record of five straight Wimbledons; Nadal was trying to become the first man since the Swede to win the French and Wimbledon back to back. As for drama, it was heightened by the race against encroaching darkness, which lent a wild edge to the end of the fifth set. This match would always have been a classic, but the flash-bulbs that peppered the dusky trophy ceremony ensure that it will be instantly recognizable in the future, its atmosphere as unique as its shot-making.

Then we came to the end. Nadal’s celebration—a helpless, painfully relieved fall to his back, with his legs and arms splayed—was electric. You felt like he was at the center of a current that was circling Centre Court and exploding in flash photos. But there are two moments I’ll remember just as much at that. Before the final point, Nadal’s Uncle Toni finally couldn’t take it anymore. He had to get out of his seat and move down to the front row of the player’s box. He lifted his arm and gestured to his nephew to do it now. The spontaneity and urgency of that gesture captured the excruciating nature of the moment. After the final point, when Federer put the last ball into the net and Nadal hit the dirt, you could see Roger Federer’s father, Robert, proudly sporting his son’s red RF logo hat, immediately stand to clap. He kept clapping as Nadal climbed the player’s box, crushingly hugged his parents and Uncle Toni, and stamped past the Federer entourage to shake hands with Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick. Would you think less of me if I told you I had a tear—or two, or three—in my eye, for Rafa, for Robert Federer, for Uncle Toni, for Mirka, who touched Nadal’s leg as he walked past, and for Mr. and Mrs. Nadal, who sat tormented for seven hours before they could let it out? In what other sport, in what other arena, on what other night, would you see anything like this?

Greatest ever, by a mile. A+

VwVenus Williams
Poor Venus. She rolls through the draw for a second straight year, doesn’t lose a set, and handles a difficult win over her sister in the final with easy dignity. Then everyone forgets all about it 24 hours later. Don’t: This was not just a customarily imperious and focused effort from Venus—the sight of her crazy legs gobbling up ground along the baseline is now as much a part of Centre Court lore as the sight of Pete Sampras bombing aces there—it also felt like a landmark in how the Williamses handle playing each other. It was winner-take-all competition and sibling rivalry at its most adult. The edges, and the awkwardness, weren't as obvious. I wonder: We say it's hard for them to compete because they love each other, but isn't your sibling also the person you want to beat more than anyone else in the world? Has this edge been dulled in Serena over the years?

Either way, it was the best match they’ve played—not a classic contest, but a compelling one. Venus weathered an early Serena storm calmly, and took control of the match methodically. I’ve always thought their matches can be scratchy in part because each runs down shots that would be winners against anyone else. That leads to extra shots and, eventually, errors. This time, little sister looked she had nowhere good to go with the ball by the end. A+

Roger Federer
For a world No. 1 and five-time defending champion, Federer looked oddly aggrieved through much of his final against Nadal. HawkEye had it in for him, the chair umpire annoyed him, a Nadal shot that landed inside the line inspired a wild, hopeless challenge. The force of Nadal’s momentum over the last few months seemed to have put doubt in Federer's mind, and he wasn’t happy about it—why should he, Roger Federer, doubt himself on Centre Court against anybody? But he did. You could see it in the way his shots on break points found the net. You could see it in the way he quickly surrendered a 4-2 lead in the second set and lost four straight games. That just doesn’t happen to him against anyone else.

Which makes his stubborn comeback effort all the more impressive. Federer, as he said afterward, “tried everything.” But he was playing a guy who could match him, jaw-dropping winner for jaw-dropping winner, and who was using his tricky serve to keep him terminally off-balance. Late in the fifth set, Federer opened a return game by hitting a forehand winner down the line. It was an intimidating shot that might have rattled another player. Two points later, Nadal cracked his own, equally intimidating forehand winner and eventually held. Against everyone else, Federer can, and does, assume a natural superiority; he knows he’s better, and that if he plays well, he’ll win. He can’t assume this against Nadal. He has to start on equivalent mental footing with the Spaniard. This leaves Federer, as I said, a little aggrieved and unsure of himself.

Federer was a good loser. He looked gutted and exhausted when he talked to Sue Barker, his hair uncharacteristically sweaty and lank, a far cry from the ebullient winner in the white jacket of previous years. We might have wished that he hadn’t mentioned how dark it was and that the conditions were tough—they were for both guys—but Federer managed to keep it light when he said he played the “worst” opponent on the “best surface.” To ask for perfect grace and no trace of bitterness from him at this moment would be to ask too much.

Federer showed off the runner’s-up plate with surprising, classy enthusiasm, and walked around the court waving as if he were still the champ. What’s that Kipling line we hear so much about at Wimbledon: “If you can meet triumph and disaster and treat them just the same…”? On Sunday, Federer came as close as anyone could expect to living up to that brutal ideal. A

RfThe Cardigan
I began by hating it, especially the big RF monogram. But on Centre Court, after the match, as Federer tried to hide his crushing disappointment, it worked. This is the traditional outfit of the tennis gentleman. And the gentleman, as Kipling says, defines himself by how he handles defeat. Whatever Federer was thinking on the inside, he looked sporting on the outside. A

Serena Williams
She had another Grand Slam resurgence. Let’s hope it lasts. My lasting memory of her will be one of confusion. She couldn’t find the key to beating her sister, and she couldn’t quite believe she was losing. She was flummoxed—by the wind, by the slippery surface,, by Venus, who made her hit better shots than she normally has to and pushed her out of her comfort zone at the middle of the baseline. Even in the trophy ceremony, as her sister was singing her praises, Serena looked distracted, squinting blankly and unsmilingly into her second-place plate. A-

Marat Safin
He showed he still can command the big stage now and then, but, unlike the two finalists, he doesn’t have the ambition to make Centre Court his home. He’s got everything else, and seeing—hearing—that old fabulous backhand walloped down the line again made the tournament a little more fun. A-

Brad Gilbert
I didn’t see much of him, so he couldn’t become grating. But how can you not like a guy, who, right after a 9-7 fifth-set final, states that it will not be Federer who breaks Sampras’ record of 14 Slams, it will be Nadal. Never mind that Gilbert once said Federer would win 20 Slams and recently gave TENNIS Magazine three reasons why Nadal wouldn’t win this year’s French Open. He's a man with big ideas, even if they can be a little hare-brained. A-

Dick Enberg/Patrick McEnroe
The best call of the final was by these guys, for ESPN Classic. Not too much talk, and a couple of good lines from Enberg, who called the match what it was: “excruciatingly entertaining.” A-

Bjorn Borg
The tie, the shirt, the unflappable demaeanor: The guy’s as good at watching as he was playing. Let’s bring him to Flushing Meadows, even if he can't stand the place. A-

Jie Zheng
Enjoyed her short, sharp, low to the ground grass game, even if I won’t see it again until next year’s Wimbledon. A-

Agnieszka Radwanska
Watch the smooth ground strokes, smile at the transparent facial expressions, remember the name, no matter how you pronounce it in your head. B+

Andy Murray
Has the teeth-barer turned a corner and begun to rein in his disorganized game? I’m going to say yes, even though he reigned it in too far against Nadal. The match with Gasquet was hilarious. B+

Chris Fowler
He tries too hard when he calls matches, but he’s a pro in the studio, and I thought ESPN’s post-final wrap was solid and entertaining. It did justice, with a little wackiness thrown in, to the match that had just been played. B+

Amelie Mauresmo
We’ll miss when you go. B+

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
We welcome you, if you want to stay. B

John McEnroe
I thought he had an off day on Sunday. He’s always low-key, but this time he seemed to be restating the obvious more often than usual. Still, I wouldn’t want to hear anyone else call Federer-Nadal. B

OK, I can’t write any more at the moment. I’ll have to say good night to the best fortnight—or at least the best final two days of a fortnight—I can remember.

Who did I forget? Who deserved an F?


 
364
Comments
 
<<      1 2 3 4      >>

Posted by lulu 07/09/2008 at 05:46 PM

They're quite right.

Posted by 07/09/2008 at 05:47 PM

about Gimelstob, I mean.

Posted by lulu 07/09/2008 at 05:47 PM

about Gimelstob, I mean.

Posted by princepro110 07/09/2008 at 05:54 PM

Question Steve?

I never have read your opinion of a 5th set tie break or playing it out?

Who would have won the 5th set if the tie break was used at 6-6?

My opinion Federer.

Posted by tennut 07/09/2008 at 05:54 PM

Steve,

If you're going to praise Federer, please do it without being grudging. I realize you're a huge fan of Nadal's but accord the same respect to other champions.

Posted by lulu 07/09/2008 at 06:00 PM

Found this :

http://tiny.cc/QSyyq
"The Ugly Backswing"
By Stephen Tignor
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005

And this : http://tiny.cc/dG1p4 ? :D

Posted by Veruca Salt: Still Reeling 07/09/2008 at 06:06 PM

"USTA DISCONTINUES USE OF GIMELSTOB IN US OPEN SERIES ADS
WEDNESDAY, JULY 9 - Sports Illustrated has also stopped using Gimelstob as a blogger."

Good! Hit him where it hurts! The Wallet!!

Posted by lulu 07/09/2008 at 06:12 PM

"Steve Tignor's The Wrap: The other of Tennis Magazine's blogs, and with a slightly different flavor than TennisWorld, but equally worth your reading time - this one by the executive editor of the magazine. Steve is a technical analyst of the highest order, and to read his take on a match is to understand the players' abilities and stroke mechanics like a pro player yourself. But he also has a very deadpan sense of humor, and covers the cities to which he travels, and takes on other matters in witty asides. Right now, though, the little match yesterday in Paris has posed the philosophical question of the hour: how do you decide how well or badly one player played in a sport as dialectical as tennis, in which the efforts of one directly limit or enable the possibilities of the other? This dilemma is being turned over and over by the fans of Roger Federer, who (according to me) yesterday both lost to the better player on clay, Rafa Nadal, AND played well beneath his best. Steve's take, which is up now, is much more nuanced and typifies his ability to do that very difficult thing: describe what you see."
http://tiny.cc/NudF1

Posted by Adult 07/09/2008 at 06:15 PM

Will Roger ever recover from this truly devastating and heartbreaking loss by him on Sunday, 4:48 of pure disappointment, misery, exhaustion and darkness at the end?

Only time in the future will determine if and/or when he recovers, how it affects him, how he handles it and how he plays from now (starting in Toronto in 2 weeks) on through next year's Wimbledon.

Then everyone can and will see for themselves.
Until then, nobody knows, including Roger himself.

Posted by Sandra 07/09/2008 at 06:39 PM

Jeremy, I like my sports bloody, sweaty and a tad loud - hence my preference for Nadal. I have been watching tennis since the 70's and stopped watching men's tennis in the early 2000's and didn't start watching again until 2005 when I first saw Nadal play (I didn't see any of his matches on TV until the start of the clay season when I got access to The Tennis Channel). Nadal rekindles my interest in/excitement about men's tennis. I admire Federer, his game and his incredible accomplishments, but he doesn't grab me viscerally the way Nadal does. Just an idiosyncratic preference.

Posted by Sandra 07/09/2008 at 06:41 PM

Swiss Maestro: you repeat so often your mantra about Nadal's knees not holding out that one gets the impression that you're willing it to happen.

Posted by Sandra 07/09/2008 at 06:45 PM

Gimelstob has learned a hard lesson from letting himself get pulled down into the muck by a bunch of radio shock jocks. He'll be forgiven soon enough, and he won't make that same mistake again anytime soon.

Posted by Christin 07/09/2008 at 06:51 PM

Brad Gilbert deserves an F-. Throughout Wimbledon, he came across as a endlessly repetetive super-annoying over-the-top Rafa Kool Aid Drinker, and unforgivably lacking in respect for Federer. His "analysis' was facile and predictable. His smug grin while forever extolling Rafa to the skies made me want to turn the channel whenever I saw him. The fact that he chose the right bandwagon to jump on doesn't absove him from being a bandwagon riding clown.

Posted by vanessa 07/09/2008 at 07:03 PM

I enjoyed this article very much. I think the match was great. Exciting and dramatic. I still think that Nadal should have won in 4 sets. I think that it wasn't that Roger kept it going, but that Nadal choked. I realize that coming back and winning in the end showed great mental strength on the part of Rafa. I also realize that Roger was not his usual self (he never seems to be anymore when playing Rafa which makes me believe it is a mental issue). So for me A+ I would only give Venus. A for Rafa and A- for Roger who can't help but still be arrogant and bitter underneath his perceived class and sportsmanship. I am glad that you at least so a bit of that and I hope that everyone read the transcript of the post match press conference where he talks about the conditions as if they only affected him!!. Anyway, better luck next time for Rafa I mean. Here is hoping he doesn't waste another opportunity like he had on Sunday to finish up a match without leaving lingering doubts about his ability!

Posted by Narik 07/09/2008 at 07:15 PM

Steve, wonderful article. There is one point that I have to disagree on. Federer deserves an A+, as well. As others have noted, he fully deserves it. This is coming from a HUGE Nadal fan who needed an ambulance on stand-by everytime Fed had break point. No one else could have made me so terrified against Nadal. I give myself a swift kick in the a** for ever letting the thought cross my mind that Safin should have won the semi. Who else could have given us such quality tennis match besides Federer? A+ to Federer (and an A+++ for RAFA!)!

Posted by Christin 07/09/2008 at 07:27 PM

I agree with those who say that this is the type of loss that either breaks a player (Borg in '81) or makes them dig deeper into their reserves of character and greatness. I think this bitter loss will ultimately make Roger even better and greater than before. It will show forever what a fighter he is. I expect him to win many more Grand Slams and Masters Cups in the future, starting this month and next with a sweep of Toronto, Cincy, Olympics and U.S. Open to retain his #1 ranking. Now that his Wimby streak is broken, I think that his U.S. Open streak will become more important to him.

In the end, this loss for Roger could be parallel to Mohammad Ali's loss to Joe Frazier in their first fight in 1971. He then came back to regain the champoinship and reach greater heights of greatness than ever before. That is the mark of a superlative champion.

Posted by Davzin 07/09/2008 at 07:34 PM

The attendees at Center Court deserve A++...they helped in a big way to create the electric mood of this titanic match for the ages. We had the flat panel & seven speaker sound system cranked from the very beginning, and never knew that 16K people could be so QUIET!! The near silence prior to points in the 5th set made the palms sweat, and the nerves jangle. There are some misguided souls that feel tennis & golf need the drunken, moronic screamers that inhabit most of the sports viewing landscape. After last month's US Open victory by TW, and this superlative final, let's leave the shabby rock concert atmosphere to the Super Bowl, the NBA, Nascar, and all the other 'sports' that can't sell themselves
without a side-show circus to entertain the rabble.

Posted by sally 07/09/2008 at 07:52 PM

gilbert is just pissed that roger didn't ask him to be his coa

Posted by sally 07/09/2008 at 07:53 PM

sorry, coach.

Posted by sally 07/09/2008 at 07:53 PM

sorry, coach.

Posted by sally 07/09/2008 at 07:53 PM

sorry, coach.

Posted by Monica 07/09/2008 at 07:56 PM

Zeg, I don't usually like to express myself so strongly but I think your battle metaphors are no less delusional than Harrell's religious ones. For many of us, tennis is not just a winner-takes-it-all proposition. It is also an enjoyable game that can be played for its own sake, a game which takes two people to be great. It's that winning is everything mentality that probably made Bjorg and Henin burn out and retire prematurely. Fortunately, I think both Rafa and Roger are much more level-headed than that.

Posted by Peace 07/09/2008 at 08:19 PM

Who cares that the "underachievers" didn't get graded! The overachievers (Rafa & Rog) made me forget that there was anyone else at tournament besides the two of them.

Posted by Jeremy 07/09/2008 at 08:20 PM

@Sandra - `I like my sports bloody, sweaty and a tad loud'
I think that's the sort of explanation of how one appreciates Nadal's game that I had ben looking for when I initially posed my question. I guess that aspect of Nadal's game appeals to me too, but over the course of a match I find it numbing, while Federer's variety keeps me guessing. But I appreciate your answer. As for it being an idiosyncratic preference, so is my preference for Federer's aesthetically pleasing sense of balance and posture.

@Davzin - `let's leave the shabby rock concert atmosphere to . . . the other 'sports' that can't sell themselves without a side-show circus to entertain the rabble'
I so agree! Tennis is a sport that requires such acute mental concentration, no one can play it at a high level while being distracted by even the tiniest of things. This is why nerves can be so devastating to a player's game. If it were, say, sprinting, a person could simply continue running even with his heart in his mouth, and it might even make him faster. But as for the crowd deserving A++, there was a point near the end of the match where the umpire had to chastise them for using flash photography. It's terrible etiquette to do so during a tennis match! The only time I'd say it's all right is during an exhibition match where the players are also just out to have fun. So what say we split the crowd. Most of the people in the crowd probably deserve an A++, but I'd have the flash photographers stand in the corner.

Posted by Fudoshin 07/09/2008 at 09:07 PM

F for Luke Jensen. Do you homework and try to pronounce everyone's names as they should be pronounced. There's no merit in Americanizing the pronunciation.

Posted by zeg 07/09/2008 at 09:18 PM

Monica, tennis surely is a fun game to play on a weekend with your family and friends - as you call it "for its own sake". However, THAT tennis has very little in common with the professional kind, where, like it or not, only the victory matters. Roger's reference to that after his loss sort of illustrates that point (he said that maybe in the future it may be fun to remember he was part of a great match but it doesn't help him now. He also used the word "hurts" when discussing his defeat.)
My main attraction to Nadal's game is his attitude - the guy simply refuses to lose. Sometimes it is called "guts", and it happens to be the rarest commodity in the known universe, not just in tennis. Elsewhere on this forum someone actually referred to Nadal as an inspirational figure and I totally agree with that point of view. Winning IS everything in sports - why bother to compete otherwise? And who would care to watch?
Scrappy Rafa defeated majestic Roger in a fair battle, with due respect. Federer is arguably a more gifted player, but, just like in life, I'll take guts and perseverance over talent anytime.

Posted by 07/09/2008 at 09:23 PM

Some people here dislike Djokovic a lot, but I think you do not know him so well....
Have you seen this?
"Djokovic, the world No.3 from Serbia, watched the final while on holiday in Italy, during which he sent a text to Benito Perez-Barbadillo, his PR manager, who does the same job for Nadal. “I still have a lot to learn,” it read."

Source: www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sp...

Posted by bluesunflower 07/09/2008 at 09:24 PM

hi chinkyv101 11.30
I thought i was the only one that scoured the internet reading articles about the final

Posted by steve 07/09/2008 at 10:03 PM

i think federer will react well. he's a dedicated pro who doesn't seem wound too tight or on the verge of burnout, a la borg. he enjoys tennis still and appreciates winning, because he didn't always dominate the tour. plus, no one else has come close to beating him in the last two slams other than nadal.

enjoyed the ted robinson f- review above.

that review of my blog was written by a friend of mine, btw.

here's part of a paragraph from the foster wallace piece, exemplifying the dubious dichotomy he constructed between federer and nadal in 2006 (i think i only mentioned this article once before, but whatever)

"There’s the great care Roger Federer takes to hang the sport coat over his spare courtside chair’s back, just so, to keep it from wrinkling — he’s done this before each match here, and something about it seems childlike and weirdly sweet. Or the way he inevitably changes out his racket sometime in the second set, the new one always in the same clear plastic bag closed with blue tape, which he takes off carefully and always hands to a ballboy to dispose of. There’s Nadal’s habit of constantly picking his long shorts out of his bottom as he bounces the ball before serving, his way of always cutting his eyes warily from side to side as he walks the baseline, like a convict expecting to be shanked."

Posted by Sher 07/09/2008 at 10:16 PM

I think Harrell's article was done on short notice so it doesn't look like Jon is the only tennis writer SI has :)

Posted by izidane 07/09/2008 at 11:32 PM

Well done. Couldn't put it into words myself, so I left the 'dirty' work to the likes of you.

ESPN get a C+ for the endless roundtables while live maches were going on. We missed a set of Lindsey's while they talked about her...then threw in a long montage.

NBC. Big fat F, they ruined Wimbledon for the west coast veiwers. BTW I will NEVER watch the Today show.

Andy, Nole and James get D's. They've got the game, they even had the draw .
Oh, I shed some tears too and I'm a FOOP.

Posted by sarah 07/09/2008 at 11:57 PM

I don't think it is right to compare Nadal's and Borg's FO and Wimbledon back to back wins. The courts were as different as night and day when Borg won. Now the grass plays slower and is much more similar to the clay. Nadal's wins were a great accomplishment, but weren't Borg's even more amazing?

Posted by jazzy 07/10/2008 at 12:23 AM

Eben Harrell is exactly the kind of elitist Federer fan snot who has ruined tennis for the rest of us folks who can appreciate a variety of different tennis talents and not hold our pointy noses in the air seeking only "beautiful tennis". I wouldn't be surprised if Federer's fanboys embraced that drivel as their battle cry.

Posted by robnehmeth 07/10/2008 at 12:38 AM


Mary Carillo - F

I had the mute button on when she was on, would turn it on half way through a point and she would STILL be talking. For God's sake, McEnroe's learned to shut up during the point and now she can't keep her stupid mouth SHUT.

Davydenko - F for being ranked fourth and get his but bounced in the first round

Dementiava - F for the comment she made regarding the Williams' final.

Gimelstob - F still the worst commentator ever... someone bag him please.

Posted by dnrood 07/10/2008 at 01:25 AM

Tennis facts,

Really Roger choked this match away. Can you seriously say that? If anything Rafa choked in this match and if he hadn't won the 5th this would have been crushing to him pschologically. Up 5-2 in the 4th set tie break, match on your serve and you double fault and dump an easy backhand into the net. He gave Roger a lease on this match. Roger being the champion he is took advantage and extended the match.

I think Roger tried everything he could to win this match. He tried to squeeze the area to his backhand into a 4' x 4' area, trying to hit almost exclusively forehands. He may have tightened up towards the end of the Fifth set or maybe he was just starting to fatigue a little. But I can excuse him a few errors when he's trying to blow a winner past Rafa. If anything we have learned watching Rafa is that he is going to cause guys to go for too much because they know only the best is going to win points, otherwise they get ridiculous winners shot back at them. Lastly, after blowing a fourth set tie break like Rafa did, Roger would have presumed against anyone else this is his match, but he knew he would have to play his best to beat Rafa in the fifth.

Personally, I hope Rafa can elevate his game on hard courts so he can meet Roger in a USO final. He will have to increase the number of winners he can produce on that surface to be a force, but with the relatively few amount of errors he makes that would make him a force even on hards. He might get blown away and maybe he wouldn't. Either way there would be alot of eyes on that match in the States and that's what tennis needs to rebound here in the US.

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2008 at 01:39 AM

"Dementiava - F for the comment she made regarding the Williams' final."
What did she say?

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2008 at 02:42 AM

"I don't think it is right to compare Nadal's and Borg's FO and Wimbledon back to back wins. The courts were as different as night and day when Borg won. Now the grass plays slower and is much more similar to the clay. Nadal's wins were a great accomplishment, but weren't Borg's even more amazing?"
At least Nadal gets a plus for having to beat Fed both times to get it.
dnrood, I expect Nadal to get to the quarters.

Posted by vix 07/10/2008 at 04:03 AM

It is so surprising that a lot of people think Nadal's game is not elegant. Photo after photo (of this and other tournaments)shows how Nadal's game photographs beautifully. Photos freeze increments of time and they invariably show Nadal's fantastic body positioning whenever he's playing. Yet unlike Federer's game which photograph's like a dance, or a butterfly in flight, Nadal's has a more primal beauty to it: like a lion leaping on his prey, or lightning bursting from a cloud. Yes, I believe power can be graceful.

Posted by Aussie Angel (In Honour of Avid) 07/10/2008 at 04:50 AM

I would give Serena a C+ because I thought she was rude and sulky.

Posted by Shayle 07/10/2008 at 05:47 AM

Spot on!

(Yes, I know that sounds very stupid and I'm not even British, but I think you get my meaning...)

Posted by zeg 07/10/2008 at 06:02 AM

steve,

Thanx for posting that ludicrous quote from the article I would never care to read otherwise. What are these people smoking? They should've never strayed from covering synchronized swimming.

Btw, how do guys like Ted get a broadcasting job? Whose uncle's neighbor's girlfriend's brother-in-law they happen to know? Either that, or Ted's got some serious dirt on Johnny Mac...

Speaking of John: I've noticed he's a lot less talkative when commentating on BBC, at least during the points. Wish he and the rest of the wall-to-wall background noisemakers would read the excellent recent TW article on the subject and heed the advice of its follow-up: STFU!

Posted by El 07/10/2008 at 07:10 AM

The end of the Serena one was hilarious!

Posted by Rain 07/10/2008 at 07:34 AM

@Vix

They wanted to see Rafa's right hand sway like holding a fan fanning his underarm whenever he hits a forehand and should his fingers splayed beautifully on the air like receiving manicure/nailpolishing job from someone.

They wanted to see Rafa flips his head in opposite direction whenever he hit a backhand stroke.

They wanted to see Rafa's both arms splayed completely like a rainbow color winged butterfly whenever he hit a stroke while on the run.

IN SHORTS, they wanted to see a tennis player doing exactly what a valley dancer is doing.

...and I'd say, they are in the wrong venue, they should go watch YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE? sort of to satisfy their thirst of elegance.

I can't believe too why the type of play is become an issue.

Posted by Rain 07/10/2008 at 07:38 AM

typog: should be *ballet dancer*

Posted by Marian...wtg Rafa! 07/10/2008 at 08:55 AM

Crazy-for-Rog:"Bottom line - Rafa played out of his mind, and deserved to win."- Uhm, no, he didn't play out of his mind, but somewhat restrained (by injuries?).

Dnrod: yes.

Posted by jetsetter 07/10/2008 at 09:05 AM

Lets FACE IT!!!, Wimbledon 2008 is for RAFA,..end discussion

Posted by jetsetter 07/10/2008 at 09:22 AM

to all FEDERRER fans,,,

your HERO, is a classic great player and already in the history of tennis world. A champion in everyones heart and will never be fade away, wether HE loose or win in one or twice tournaments, Federrer is still the world ranking "1".

to all NADAL fans,,,

The World no.2. You guys believes that ala GLADIATOR, will win Wimbledon title one day, and HE did...must be proud and happy...

Posted by svelterogue 07/10/2008 at 09:48 AM

LOL @ rain

word! why people expect rafa to move like some dancer while playing tennis is outrageous, indeed. :D

Posted by Jim 07/10/2008 at 10:03 AM

How can you possibly give Chris Fowler a B, the guy did everything
but say the words that he wanted Nadal to win the tournament. The
whole event ESPN people were infatuated with this new stat about
the spin rate Nadal has on his forehand, everyone else is in the
2000-2500 range while Nadal is in the 4500-5000 range.
Would anyone at ESPN believe that an NFL player was bench pressing twice as much as anyone else in the sport without
performance enhancers, yet not one of them questioned this about
Nadal.

Posted by hdelrio 07/10/2008 at 10:18 AM

For all the people who are hating on Rafa, give me a break...he is exactly what tennis needed. A shot in the arm, before he came along it was all one sided. Now that the Fed has some real competition tennis is interesting again. McEnroe said it the best, "Hey Rafa, from a tennis players point of view thanks that was a greatly entertaining match."

As for the report card, great job. I would have to give Rafa, The Fed, Bjorkman, and Venus all A+. For the worst, all the American men. Guys, that was pathetic. Brad Gilbert, please pick a side and stay with it, the dude changes his mind every twenty seconds.

BTW-I am a Fed fan and I am a Rafa fan. Best rivalry since Sampras-Agassi.

Posted by SwissMaestro 07/10/2008 at 10:22 AM

Sandra-

I point it out a lot because it is there for all of us to see. Rafa would not be using those wraps around his knees if he did not need them. They don't keep his knees from getting the 'damage' they just slow down what is inevitable.

Posted by SwissMaestro 07/10/2008 at 10:29 AM

Something tells me that should Federer had won Wimbledon the match would have not been rated as great as it has been for Nadal beating him. It would have been more like "well, he was the 5-time defending champions after all, right? so why sing his praises again for a 6th consecutive title even when it is an open era record?"

I also think Federer will bounce back strong. In my view this bruising loss (there's no other way ti put it) has liberated him and gave him something to think about. He has to re-take the thought of having to prooved to everyone and himself he is the best there is. When he is in this kind of mood he is even greater to watch, he plays as if he has the obligation to live uo to his gifts.

Posted by hdelrio 07/10/2008 at 10:56 AM

I cannot wait until the hard court season gets into full swing and the big boys start to play. I want to see if Rafa can continue this streak that he is on. I think that the Fed will be fine, and SwissMaestro I think that you are correct in your assumption of the tv ratings. If Fed had won the match then it would be "oh ho hum he won again." However, with Rafa winning it made for better ratings...even though the fact that they both put everything on the line was the major contributing factor.

Posted by Mr Rick 07/10/2008 at 11:06 AM

Swiss Maestro - i'm starting to find your wishing ill to Rafa a little creepy and mendacious.

Posted by Tony 07/10/2008 at 11:40 AM

Steve asks: What are the elements that go into “greatest” matches? he answers: level of play and style. Adding to that, I would say: occasion. The occasion determines the "greatest matches" as well. And the Wimbledon final was overflowing with occasion: 6 titles for Roger or back to back FO-Wimby titles for Nadal? The occasion was that this was an EITHER/OR proposition. It could not be BOTH/AND... Note that Roger's defeat ended his record run on grass... And Nadal repeated something that was last witnessed to in 1980... So, I say, level of play, style, and occasion.

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2008 at 11:41 AM

"BTW-I am a Fed fan and I am a Rafa fan. Best rivalry since Sampras-Agassi."
Tell me about it!

SwissMaestro, in response to your statement, from what I saw, I don't think Fed could play better in that final than he did. I'd say 80% of the time, he could have lost even worse than he did. I just think Nadal has been the best player in the world for the last few months. Anyway, there is still a lot of pressure on Fed as he is coming on a part of the season where he has a lot of points and normally the best in the world, whereas Nadal has a lot of points to gain and is simply one of the top players.

Posted by Jen 07/10/2008 at 11:52 AM

Daveydanko deserved an F, so did Novak, Ana, Maria, and Andy Roddick.

Posted by Veruca Salt: Still Reeling 07/10/2008 at 11:58 AM

Jim: Okay..we all get what you're saying. Rafa is a drug cheat because there's just no other explanation for his victory.

*rolls eyes*

Posted by Nick 07/10/2008 at 12:14 PM

Dunno how Federer will come out of this one. It's 50-50. If anything is still turning in his head, besides losing outright, it's probably the Second Set. He held to go up 4-1, then watched as Nadal reeled off the next 5 games to take the set 6-4. It's the third time this year Nadal's done this kind of retaliation to him: Monte Carlo, down 4-0 to come back; and Hamburg, down 5-1 to come back, winning both sets. That it happens against Nadal on clay isn't that surprising, but does anyone remember someone taking five straight games from Federer on grass? Those kind of rescues that Nadal's pulled off against him this year are the things that stay in your head.

Steve's right that Nadal's tightening up in the 3rd Set opened the door for Federer. Had Nadal stayed steady in the 3rd Set 7th Game by flipping one of those 3 Break Points, he might have won this thing in straights, which is stunning to contemplate Federer going down that way at Wimbledon. Federer smelled Nadal's tentative tightening up, and worked his way back in. But I'm not sure if it's better or worse for him to have fought that hard for that long and still come up short in the end. If it was me, I'd feel worse mounting a comeback that didn't work, especially on my best surface.

The truth might be as simple as it's always been for tennis players throughout history: Federer, at age 27 (next month), looks like he's lost about a 1/4 to a 1/2 step. He can get away with that against guys that he's always been supremely superior too. But against younger guys like Nadal and even Djokovic, he's gonna have to work harder than he's had to before to beat them. He can still beat them - he's Roger Federer, after all - it'll just be tougher to pull it off.

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2008 at 12:15 PM

Well Veruca Salt...isn't this the year Nadal started running instead of just training on a bike?! ;-)

Posted by SwissMaestro 07/10/2008 at 12:34 PM

Mr Rick-

Not really. I don't think it is creepy and mendacious to call it like i see it as I try to explain my points. I don't like Rafa's game but I respect him and admit when he has been better, don't try to look for an excuse to cause controversy.

Posted by SwissMaestro 07/10/2008 at 12:35 PM

Eddy-

True. We'll see how it unfolds.

Posted by backslasher 07/10/2008 at 12:50 PM

If you thought those articles were foolish check out this one. They think Nadal needs to show more personality. LOL. How exactly does he not show enough personality?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601079&sid=aTFStzJPgIL4&refer=home

Posted by backslasher 07/10/2008 at 12:53 PM

Posted by Christin 07/09/2008
"Brad Gilbert deserves an F-. Throughout Wimbledon, he came across as a endlessly repetetive super-annoying over-the-top Rafa Kool Aid Drinker, and unforgivably lacking in respect for Federer. His "analysis' was facile and predictable. His smug grin while forever extolling Rafa to the skies made me want to turn the channel whenever I saw him. The fact that he chose the right bandwagon to jump on doesn't absove him from being a bandwagon riding clown."

ROTFL. Someone sounds bitter that Gilbert was right about his prediction that Nadal would win Wimbledon this year. :)

Posted by frances 07/10/2008 at 12:59 PM

MasterAce, thank you. Because as you know, it's my undying devotion to Venus and Serena that is responsible for their win.

Yippee!!! Did I say I'm ecstatic?

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 07/10/2008 at 01:04 PM

backslasher,

I just read the article in question, and the writer/reporter, Curtis Eichelberger, does not prescribe anything of the sort. Whatnhe does is REPORT that many marketing execs -- those who decide who will get the big endorsement deals -- think that Rafa's English-language speaking skills are still too lacking and his personality a bit too hidden by his naural modesty to expect that he'll suddenly become a huge endorsement star, a la Andre Agassi, simply because he has now done the near-impossible -- dethroning Federer at Wimbledon, becoming only the second male Spaniard to win the coveted title and the first in 42 years, and becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg to win the French crwon and Wimbledon back-to-back.

I see nothing wrong at all in the reportage. Even his PR manager, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, agrees with the marketing execs: "His image has grown very much because of winning Wimbledon, but it won't change the way he is," Perez-Barbadillo said. "We've been working on his marketability for four years. It's very simple. Follow what he is: humble, down to earth."

Posted by kikkre 07/10/2008 at 01:05 PM

the Cardigan stinks

Posted by rafalution 07/10/2008 at 01:17 PM

N for having equal prize money for both men and women....
women's tennis is just so boring, no depth, top players like the williamses don't have to work hard and can still win

very unfair indeed for men having to play for sets, less wage....
women claim they can and will play five sets shall it be forced upon them, please......look at peer and safina match for instance.....

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2008 at 01:20 PM

I think women should be paid equally Not to play five sets...how boring would that be...

Posted by sally 07/10/2008 at 01:43 PM

justin gimelstob gets the F for reinforcing the frat-boy, crude-mannered american with his boorish, sexist comments and tennis channel gets low marks for keeping him around.

Posted by marron 07/10/2008 at 01:52 PM

SwissMaestro, I think your keyboard letters 'k''n''e''e''s' will wear out long before Rafa's knees will.

Posted by Sam 07/10/2008 at 01:52 PM

I agree with most of these grades. But Roger Federer should not have gotten an A especially after all of those unforced errors in the final. He elevated his game in the end but he very nearly lost in straight sets. I'd give him an A- or B+. As for F or D that should go to Novak Djokovic for bragging Federer is declining and then losing before the third set.

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2008 at 02:10 PM

I think Fed gets an A for losing three sets in the tournament. Nadal A+ for having to beat Fed to win Wimbledom.

Posted by SueB 07/10/2008 at 02:19 PM

Enjoyable article--thanks Steve.

As far as the F grade, it is shared by the petal skirt tennis dress, the trench coat, and the white tux. The cardigan plus warm-up trousers gets less than an F.

Brooklyn from the Borough made the point that these costumes reflect a mindset that has little to do with championship tennis. I agree. How can you play like a champion when masquerading as tinkerbell, a refugee from a Carnaby Street cinema, a 1930s Berlin club singer, or a character from Brideshead Revisited?

Nike and Adidas (and the players they sponsor) must be losing their minds.

Posted by princepro110 07/10/2008 at 02:24 PM

Gimelstob has been a jerk from his Junior days thru his professional career and by his recent remarks as a media guy. Why would any media guy with any knowledge of tennis even offer this guy a job if they had done a background check? Now if they wanted to show an "ugly American"........then he would be the first to get the job. The USTA/Tennis Channel should fire him immediately or he might have a gig on the Imus Show on WABC!

Posted by mwu 07/10/2008 at 02:44 PM

Not sure where to put this, but remember that terrible ESPN column Bill Simmons wrote a couple weeks ago, which Steve and Kamakshi both eviscerated? ("Who cares about Wimbledon? Not me." or somesuch.)

For what it's worth, Simmons did admit a bit of a mea culpa and actually spent one of his podcasts talking with James Blake. Not a bad listen (though Simmons has an unfortunate speaking voice).

Posted by Jim 07/10/2008 at 02:45 PM

Veronica, you haven't been paying attention to sports the last 8
years, even if Rafa lost, his first serve went form 105mph a year ago to the 120's now. If Jimmy Connor's could've jumped his that much in a year he'd have won 20 grand slams, Rafa didn't get those
arms fishing and swinging a tennis racket. Fortunately for you,
uncle tony's not going to let anyone get close to what they've been putting in him.

Posted by SwissMaestro 07/10/2008 at 03:14 PM

marron-

I assure you they won't! =)

Posted by zeg 07/10/2008 at 03:16 PM

Another tennis media "pro" story:
http://tinyurl.com/5ovtst

Posted by rafafan 07/10/2008 at 03:32 PM

Jim you are reaching.

Posted by Jim 07/10/2008 at 03:56 PM

rafafan, You haven't been paying attention either, when an athlet
in any sport is described as having a freakish strength that no
one else in their sport has, it's not a reach for me to make conclusions that newspapers around the world have already made

Posted by rafafan 07/10/2008 at 04:06 PM

In every sport there is always and uncommon athelete, one that can only be described as a phenomenon. I believe this is what we have with Rafael Nadal. I believe this because my own son has uncommon strength and ability at the very young age of 13 and has been that way since birth, so I know it can happen, albeit rare.
And I assure you that I have been paying attention.

Posted by rafafan 07/10/2008 at 04:09 PM

In every sport there is always an uncommon athelete that can only be described as a phenomenon. I believe that is what we have here.
I believe that because my own son has always had incredible strenghth and power for his young age and has been that way since birth.
Believe me, I have been paying attention.

Posted by JillfromNY 07/10/2008 at 04:27 PM

Great article.

But, the cardigan is awful. The only tennis player who seems to be able to pull off the fashion stuff is Serena...maybe because she is authentically into fashion...it's always been a part of her personality since she started as a pro. With Fed and Pova, it comes across as a crass marketing strategy. It's a turn-off.

I didn't read all of the responses in this thread, so I apologize if I am repeating what someone has already said, but Ana Ivanovic deserves a D for her performance. To say she was not dialed in is an understatement.

Oh, and Steve you should give low grades to all of your media brethren who selected Pova to win Wimby even though she has been unsuccessful in getting through Venus at Wimby.

Posted by Eddy 07/10/2008 at 04:46 PM

Never thought much of Gimelstob. It's not the first antifemale comment I've heard from him. If he's indeed a charming guy, it's certainly not worth more than the comments he's made to date. I'm tired of reading about him...I can't wait for the first masters in two weeks! argh!

Posted by Johnny 07/10/2008 at 05:04 PM

Verdasco me da asco.
Regards,
J.T.

Posted by Earl 07/10/2008 at 06:12 PM

1/13 break points
52 UNforced errors
66% 1st serve

Still barely lost 9-7 in the 5th and final set in 4:48.

If Roger actually played well, he would've won in 3 straight sets.

However, except for at Shanghai in November in each of the last 2 years, and a few other occasions, he does not play well against Nadal usually, even on grass.

It must be style of play, matchup and mental.

That's a bad sign and trend for Roger against Nadal.

Posted by Steph 07/10/2008 at 06:28 PM

As always I would like to award mary carillo with an F-. She obviously has no idea whats going on, lots of her comments are too long whinded and interfere with points and she links EVERYTHING to the Williams sisters. When she has to analyze a shot she comes out with and obvious safe comment like, ohh he looks tight there. ( she sounds like a man but not her fault). I completely agree that federer second guessed himself on break points and i realized he almost never won the point at ad federer. At least we saw glimpses that rog still has it in him, can he mentally rebuild his confidence, I don't know. But right now Nadal looks unstoppable.

Posted by Rick 07/10/2008 at 06:39 PM

Federer did commit an unsightly 52 UNforced errors, which is even higher on grass and even worse on grass and even more difficult to do on grass, and the 1/13 break points and 0/6 in the 3rd set were horrible too, most misses on his own easy UNforced errors wide, long or into net.

Yes Federer played badly and even his own 1st serve percentage was bad and low for him at 66%, and as badly as he played for him, he still lost a very close and long match of 4:48 and 9-7 in the 5th and final set.

His own nerves and pressure of expectations and success and wins and his own mentality versus Nadal are the major reasons why this continues happening far too often versus Nadal.

Nadal is in his head clearly, and until Federer changes this, these losses by his own bad play will continue to happen head to head most of the time.

Federer deserves a C grade for his bad performance, and he still almost won.
When he plays well, he wins easily.
Him playing well just doesn't happen much versus Nadal.
That's all.

Posted by zig 07/10/2008 at 06:50 PM

Serena: B+. Had a soft draw and then for the 6th straight major looked out of sorts and just couldn't get it done when it counted most. With Henin gone, it should be her time again.
Jankovic: B. Failed take advantage of a great chance to become No. 1 and usurp her Serbian rival. Extra credit for the comments about the parking lot, though.
Vaidisova: B. Winning some matches was nice, but for the next tournament remember to keep the ball in the court against players you should beat.
Djokovic: F. You can't talk like that and then lose so meekly in the 2nd round.

Posted by Tennis Serve 07/10/2008 at 08:57 PM

Great wrap up, really good read! That was the most thrilling final I have ever watched. I was going for Federer and was so sure he'd get there in the end. I thought his experience would get him over the line as they got further and further on in the match. He started out poorly with a lot of unforced errors but once they got going it was amazing how in particular his serve really fired up when it counted.

Posted by Monkey 07/10/2008 at 09:03 PM

Here are my grades for players...
The underachievers...
Sharapova- F-
Djokovic- F
Nalbandian- D (complained of injury)
Roddick- D
Davydenko- F

More Coming up!

Posted by Monkey 07/10/2008 at 09:13 PM

The Underachievers... (cont.)
Gasquet- D (lost from two sets up)
Almagro- C (could have done better)
Ivanovic- C
Jankovic- F (lost in straight sets to T. Tansugaran)

Posted by Monkey 07/10/2008 at 09:22 PM

The Overachievers...
Tipsy- B+
Schuettler- A-
Clement- B+
Nadal- A+ (finally wins a Wimbledon)
Ancic- A- (did not expect to make far)
Safin- A- (great breakthrough)(close to winning)
Federer- A+ (played best tennis) (not good enough for Nadal though)
Zheng- A (breakthrough like Safin) (maybe better next year)

Posted by Blue:Mokez 07/10/2008 at 09:23 PM

Great Monkey!
Write more

Posted by Nagan 07/10/2008 at 09:59 PM

The darkness was NOT for both. Once he was broken, Federer had to recieve in light that was much darker than a moment before since the sun was setting fast more and more. Plus, Fed was angry and agitated when Nadal was bouncing the ball too long at 8-7, deuce.

Posted by maira 07/10/2008 at 10:27 PM

it's ridiculous how the drug abuse controversy in baseball has now everyone suspicious of any good players from other sports, ridiculous....
people think to expose tiger woods, rafa, and dara torres!!!!

Posted by Monica 07/10/2008 at 10:29 PM

An interesting perspective:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/10/asia/letter.php

Posted by tennisfan 07/10/2008 at 10:30 PM

why is venus' fifth title being overlooked?
because women's tennis has no depth and variety.....
all the sisters did was whack that ball as hard they can and occasionally move in for a volley....i'm sorry but this style of play i get enough from the other women on tour......

women's tennis is dead, nothing can save it!!!!!

Posted by 07/10/2008 at 10:50 PM

"The darkness was NOT for both. Once he was broken, Federer had to recieve in light that was much darker than a moment before since the sun was setting fast more and more. Plus, Fed was angry and agitated when Nadal was bouncing the ball too long at 8-7, deuce."

You forgot to mention additional light Nadal had that was generated from his halo. Come on. This is not how Roger wants to remember losing this title and I am sure he does not want his fans to remember it this way either. He fought hard and by 5 points he lost.

<<      1 2 3 4      >>

We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  W: Final Final Thoughts W Note  >>




A Little Less Life and Death
Playing Ball: Good Luck to a Partner
Playing Ball: Losing Them All
Keeping Tabs: August 8
Quick-Change Artists
Hard Landing
Part of the Action
This blog has 1484 entries and 99623 comments.
More
More Video
Daily Spin