Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Madrid Notebook
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Madrid Notebook 10/16/2008 - 2:04 PM

GsThere’s a moment in every work day when the desk, the mouse, the computer, and the infamous blank page—now the blank screen—starts to bring me down. Twice this week I’ve come into the office on a high, reveling in fall weather and startling playoff wins by my Philadelphia Phillies. Twice I’ve sat back in my squeaky chair, dutifully clicked around the Internet, tried with middling success to write a sentence, and felt my brain gradually lose all focus and direction. Pretty soon I’m looking for a reason, any reason imaginable, to get up and take a walk around the office. Often, by the time I’ve taken 10 steps, I have to ask myself, “What did I get up to do again?” That’s when I start to walk faster, so I look like I know where I’m going.

This week, though, I’ve had an automatic destination. One of the benefits of working in the offices of TENNIS Magazine is that I can go watch a match on the TV in the conference room and call it work. I’ve been in and out of there a few times each day, enough to see how many blatant winners can be hit by the pros these days when the conditions are completely controlled. Is it just me, or are the men—and women, to an extent—able to knock the ball past their opponents more nonchalantly, and from more ridiculous positions on the court, with each passing year? Just when Fernando Gonzalez seemed to be the last word in power, now we see Ernests Gulbis upping it. What was awe-inspiring 10 years ago is routine today. As a fan, I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing—I still want to be awed—but you can’t fault the players for getting better.

With that in mind, here are a few more observations about those ever-improving players from the CE office notebook.

Gael Monfils: I didn’t catch his win over Andy Roddick today, but I did see him outclass Fabio Fognini in the opening round. When I say “outclass” I mean it in the athletic sense. For all the hard work a tennis player must put in, and all the mental fortitude he must have, and all the nerves he must keep at bay, the pro game more than ever is an aristocracy of the athlete. Monfils looked like could have literally played circles around Fognini.

Marcel Granollers: Who is this 22-year-old late-bloomer from Spain, and how did a game this funky and abbreviated make its way into a Masters event? As of now, I can’t say I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the future.

Andy Murray: We talk about how hard Rafael Nadal has to work to win points, but Murray covers as much ground to get the job done. And that’s the way he likes it, because no one controls a rally from 6 feet behind the baseline the way he does. Watching him beat Simone Bolelli in the first round, I began to think that it’s useless to ask Murray to move into the court more often. His instinct is to use every shot he can think of to win a point, rather than to choose one option right away. It works for him because, like Roger Federer and no one else, Murray really does have every shot, spin, placement, and idea available to him.
Positive: the haircut. Negative: he still has that weird overbite when he returns serve; it’s the polar opposite and perfect complement to the upper-lip snarl that Nadal does as he’s tossing the ball on his serve.

Dmitry Tursunov: You know those little extra motions that the most natural athletes throw off between points? Think of Boris Becker “walking the dog” with the ball as he went back for a second serve; or the way Federer bounces a ball off the side of his frame or sends it to the ball boy across the net with a hint of disdain after he holds serve. Tursunov, the ultimate natural athlete, has more of these flourishes than any other player. But he’s the only one who obviously takes no joy in them whatsoever. He makes athleticism look dutiful, which to me is frighteningly cold-blooded.

Richard Gasquet: If Murray is the half of Federer who owns every shot, the Frenchman is the other half, the one that can do anything with the shot he’s forced to hit—it’s less about choice with him that it is about instinct. Against Mardy Fish, he would routinely let one of the American’s approaches get on top of him, and then flick it for a sharp-angle passing-shot winner at the very last second. At the moment, Murray is proving that conscious variety is more reliable and effective than the instinctive version. Federer has already shown us what it’s like to have both.

Gilles Simon: The slender countryman of Gasquet’s survived again today, beating Robby Ginepri in a third-set tiebreaker. What’s interesting about his game is how unlikely it is. He's completely reactive, hits a weird, open, flat forehand, doesn’t get all he could into his serve, and often appears not to be trying. Except that he’s trying harder than anyone.

Juan Martin del Potro: Other than del Potro. Everyone American loves a winner, and I’m starting to look forward to seeing this kid play. Not because of his game, exactly, but because of his hunger. Whether it’s his newly improved kick second serve, or the length and accuracy of his flat ground strokes, or his intelligent, consistent, always out in front return of serve, del Potro is playing relentless tennis. Even a brief interlude of negativity early in the second set against Nalbandian today, in which del Potro missed three straight backhands, was shrugged off with tenacious serving. Next is a likely match against Federer. We’ll find out how far hunger can take him.

Ernests Gulbis: Is he the next Gonzalez, a slugger who never develops a rhythm? I like his strokes more than Gonzo’s, and I have to think he’ll learn to measure them a little better when the match is on the line. This was a learning year for the Latvian. So far he’s learned how to take a set, from Nadal and from Roddick most prominently. But that doesn’t mean his explosiveness isn’t a thrill, even when he’s losing all the other sets. He has a unique and appealing look as well, even though I can’t describe it at the moment—laid-back, classy, mellow, innocent? We’ll figure it out eventually, just like he’ll figure out how to win more than one set.

Roger Federer: He was impressively sharp against Stepanek. Even when the Wacky One brought out the hops, skips, finger-twirls, and arrthymic fist-pumps—not to mention his best volleys—in the second set tiebreaker, Federer simply put his head down and came up with the best return-pass combination of the day to set up match point. The guy can play.

Ball Girls: The models are back, and if I’m not mistaken, one of them offered encouragement to Nadal at match point against Gulbis. He didn’t seem to notice. The guy can concentrate.

Jason Goodall: The Brit/Aussie announcing team on the Tennis Channel is refreshingly unobtrusive, though Goodall could pull out his bracing sense of humor more often. When Andy Roddick showed up to watch Fish play, Goodall speculated about their "bromance." Upon seeing "Mrs. Fish" (a funny term in itself) smiling in the stands, he said, "She looks happy. Then it will be all downhill from there."

At least I hope he was joking.

Background noise: Two years ago during this tournament I did a set of back-and-forth posts with TW and CE regular Juan José (who is now married to TW regular Amy Lu). As a fellow music lover, JJ ended his posts by citing the albums and other ambient noises that he was listening to as he typed.

I liked the idea, so I’ll bring it back here, perhaps against your will (if so, stop reading now and keep your displeasure to yourself) to tell you that this post was written to the sounds of the Replacements 1985 semi-classic Tim. The band is as much a totem and cliché of my generation as the Beatles are to baby boomers, but Paul Westerberg was one of rock’s very few poets (Dylan comes to mind, as well as Jonathan Richman, though I’d classify him as an artist first). Almost no one penned as many immortal one-liners as Westerberg:

“The only thing that scares me is the dark” (from a song called “Nightclub Jitters”); “Irresponsibility is my closest friend”; “Let’s get this over with/I tee off in an hour” (said by a doctor in a song called “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out”); “Lonely, I guess that’s where I’m from”; “I tried to hail an ambulance”; "There was liquor on my breath/You were on my mind," among many others.

Tim has more than its share of immortal lyrics as well. It was the first album the band did with a professional studio production, and it seems on the surface to suffer from the trademark echo of that era—the instruments seem like they're being played in different rooms. But over the years I’ve decided that the boomy, gloomy production fits the songs. This is punk at its darkest; the wide hole at the center of the sound feels like an abyss.

I pull Tim out as fall comes and I can feel the cold for the first time. This is due mainly to the album’s final song, the desolate, anti-Cheers anthem “Here Comes a Regular,” in which a barfly ponders his shameful fate. Blackness deepens with each line, until we get these words of pure alienation—“All I know is I’m sick of everything my money can buy”—as the singer pulls his collar up against the wind and refuses a final buy-back from his friend at the bar.

The song I can’t stop listening to this time, though, is the deceptively somber “Swinging Party.” It includes some of Westerberg’s best lines—“Bring your own lampshade/Somewhere there’s a party"; “If being wrong’s a crime/I’m serving forever.” But in the middle of the song, this happens

Pound the prairie pavement, losin' proposition
Quittin' school and goin' to work and never goin' fishin'
Water all around, never learn how to swim now

I know these are profound, and profoundly sad words, but I’m always left wondering exactly what they mean, especially the last line. Which just keeps me coming back to the song again and again, 23 years after it was written. Maybe I’ll have it figured out by the time Madrid is over.

Meanwhile, enjoy the tournament; the upcoming matches should be a bright, if highly temporary distraction at a pretty bleak time.

Click below to see a video for a song from Tim, "Bastards of Young." Still the best ever done.


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

Federer is ever-improving?
love the optimism!

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/16/2008 at 03:12 PM

hahaha Fed is trashing tsonga..

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/16/2008 at 03:15 PM

actually just trashed him...

Posted by Red⁺ = Legacy Solidified 10/16/2008 at 03:21 PM

You write so well.
Re Gulbis, he is all the above. Laid back, classy, mellow and innocent. Here's hoping he stays that way at least for a while longer.

Posted by nora 10/16/2008 at 03:23 PM

Honestly this is weird. I know we have lot of musical preferences in common, but it's still funny to read this as I go into day 3 of a huge 'Mats kick. Let It Be/Pleased to Meet Me/Tim, mainly.

If you look on youtube at interviews, Westerberg is so eloquent. See for instance the interview where he defends the song about suicide called 'the Ledge.'

And Federer's not playing too bad, either. He was making some mistakes, but really being aggressive and crushing groundstrokes, and Tsonga couldn't stay with him after a while. I don't think you've explained why you think Del Potro is likely to beat him, but I'd really like to hear it.

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/16/2008 at 03:26 PM

is it me? or is it that when Federer seems to be playing 'carelessly' (hey! he thought about pulling the plug for the rest of the year) that he is at his most dangerous?

Posted by Charles 10/16/2008 at 03:28 PM

I'm fascinated by the analysis on Gulbis. He certainly looks capabale of some serious results, but hard to know if he can harness his talents--I don't think he'll ever be a serious threat for GS titles, I guess. I compare him to Agassi who managed to cop 3 GS titles on the strength of his talent, before he found discipline and won another 5 in what should have been the twilight of his career--if only Agassi had figured out how to be disciplined sooner, what might he have accomplished... but I really don't think Gulbis has nearly as much talent as Agassi did, so unless he learns to win and want it and be patient, I can't seem exceeding Gonzo's accomplishments - one GS final...

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/16/2008 at 03:30 PM

maybe Federer is jsut loosened up and relaxed since he feels he has nothing to loose?? I really doubt any player would want to face him if he is in that frame on mind..

Posted by imjimmy 10/16/2008 at 03:44 PM

Steve : What about Nadal? No comments...

Posted by Merid 10/16/2008 at 03:46 PM

I love Del Potro but I'd really like to see Fed win!

Posted by luxsword 10/16/2008 at 04:01 PM

Glad to see another Madrid post. :D I like your notebooks, too.
Replacements, irremplacable. ;)

Posted by Charles 10/16/2008 at 04:39 PM

fascinating lyrics you quote.
I googled them--there's actually a website called 'waterallaround' but it didn't reveal much.
The lyric sites seem to be split 50-50 on whether the lyrics are "never learn how to swim now" or "never learned how to swim now". The implication of both is regret, but the first is more like bemoaning a lost opportunity and the second like a complaint about the past.

Searching around I did find that a few people seem to think "swinging party" refers to a lynching, public execution, or suicide in jail. The idea was also floated that the song is about drug addiction--it makes him not strong.

The question that comes into my mind is who is he singing to? When he says, "we hang side by side", who is the "we"? Is it his lover or is it his friend, or everyone in general? It certainly affects how the song might be interpreted.

The idea that "we hang side by side, at the swingin' party down the line" definitely looks to me like a reference to hanging. But I'd bet he was clever enough to intend the double entendre's other meaning that most people will pick up with the "lampshade" and the "party"... ie that we're "hanging out" at a meaningless party

My guess is that the song means something like that we are all guilty of "being cold and blind and weak". And the line about water, specifically, I think is intended to express regret. There might be a sequence in the 3 lines you quote:
can't find a job
and if you got a job, can't have fun (fishin')
and if you can have fun (fish), can't enjoy it

a lot of layered meanings I think, with regret being chief among them, I think.

Thanks for sharing this song.

Posted by barry 10/16/2008 at 04:43 PM

great analysis....followed by a reference to da 'Mats. unfreakin' real.

regarding rock poets - Andy Patridge and Colin Moulding (sp?) of XTC come to mind....

Posted by Missy_Rafa 10/16/2008 at 04:43 PM

What about RAFA?????? jeez

Posted by nora 10/16/2008 at 04:52 PM


Not sure if you came across this site for replacements lyrics. It's the replacements mailing list site. there are comments attached to the lyrics for most albums, detailing where some of the songs and lyrics come from, etc.:

Posted by jewell 10/16/2008 at 04:58 PM

I love the notebook posts.

But where is Rafa? Oh wait - he's so perfect there's nothing to say. :))

Posted by Ryan 10/16/2008 at 05:24 PM

M83, Steve....Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts.

Posted by aa08 10/16/2008 at 05:30 PM

i don't even know you, but i thought of you when the phillies won. i also thought of you when i read about william claxton, that you might mention a word or two of his oeuvre...

i am living that entire first paragraph of yours, AND have also been in replacements mode this week! except i've been listening to "let it be" ("favorite thing," mostly.)

i love it when your posts come with background music...

"swinging party" is for swaying and sighing.

"nightclub jitters" still kills me, every time. i fell in love with a boy because of that one. the saxophone (prince gabe kirby!)?! so right...

"don't matter much if we keep in touch, don't matter much, 'cause i've got a touch..."

thanks for great reading/listening...

Posted by Jeremy 10/16/2008 at 05:31 PM

re: roger

'the guy can play'?

uhhhh...i think that has been proven years ago, and re-confirmed by the US Open thrashing of Murray (collecting GS #13), despite the media beat down he got this year for *only* making it to three GS finals and one GS semi.

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/16/2008 at 05:38 PM

Djokovic goes down to Karlovic in two tie-breakers, go figure...

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/16/2008 at 05:40 PM

"At the moment, Murray is proving that conscious variety is more reliable and effective than the instinctive version. Federer has already shown us what it’s like to have both".


Posted by SwissMaestro 10/16/2008 at 05:41 PM

but i still like Gasquet's game better than Murray's...

Posted by Aabye 10/16/2008 at 06:30 PM

Del Potro is cleaning up this fall season. I'm just glad he's finally healthy and hope he can carry it into next year, and doesn't become just another giant who pops up during the fall run. If Murray hadn't already wrapped it up with his USO run, he would certainly be in the mix for "Most Improved".

Nadal and Federer seem to be on their now almost routine collision course. I can't honestly say I'm getting tired of this rivalry yet, although I bet it doesn't make it easy for you writers. What I really hope is that next year we can see it in Melbourne or NY. They have to play at least one hard-court Slam.

No, definitely keep the "Background Noise" section please.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 10/16/2008 at 06:32 PM

steve, that was a thoroughly enjoyable post. i agree with you about gulbis' improvement, it's no mean feat taking a set off of rafa or indeed a-rod. i find ernie very endearing i must say.
i noticed that you didn't talk about rafa's outstanding improvements, such as his serve and, if it was possible, his ever-literally awesome down the line forehand.
by the way, i think the background noise thing was a nice touch, so for one night only, im gonna post my backgraound noise.

>> automatic for the people, R.E.M.

Posted by StevetheReetard 10/16/2008 at 06:34 PM

Steve you big dummy once again your knowledge of this game has been clearly demonstrated. I'm speaking of what is yet to come. So far your 3/4 in your predictions. The Federer / Del Potro match being tomorrow, you will be 2/4 for the semis. And if Fed makes it to the finals thats a big 1/4 steve, you loser. Please be wiser in your predictions to avoid looking like the total idiot you are, if the above happens.


Posted by Divesh 10/16/2008 at 06:51 PM


How come there is no caption mentioning Nadal or Djokovic? Nadal seems to carry the aura of invicibility and Djokovic still seems mad at the world for having such nominal results since Rome. Djokovic has got some serious issues. I like how on his website it's written in bold "Novak goes for No. 1"....
may be someone needs to remind his the go for no.2 before no.1.

Posted by Fran 10/16/2008 at 07:12 PM

Despite being a dummy Steve!! as christened by the above your writing has some lovely phrasing;enjoyed it thanks.

Posted by Gaston 10/16/2008 at 07:22 PM

I think Djokovic is having a mild case of what Coria had. It's a shame nobody knows what that is exactly.

Posted by tina 10/16/2008 at 07:36 PM

wow. The Replacements - I'll have to get some mp3s, I sold off all my old vinyl, including "Tim".

Posted by SufM 10/16/2008 at 08:38 PM

I gotta say Steve, I have written some hateful comments about your writing previously, and probably rightfully so. Maybe you even appreciate the criticism..? But I thought that your analogy of Murray and Gasquet's versions of tennis compared to Federer's was brilliant.

Posted by SufM 10/16/2008 at 08:41 PM

By the way, its a Brit/ South African duo as the commentators. Robbie Koenig is South African. random fact.

Posted by Michael 10/16/2008 at 09:14 PM

The idea that Murray has no instinctive variety is a bit silly. What do you think he just woke up at 17 or 18 and decided to expand his game? He's played this way "instinctively" since he was a kid! I know this because i actually saw him play!!!

Posted by Lleytsie 10/16/2008 at 09:57 PM

steve - digg this one


Posted by Lleytsie 10/16/2008 at 09:57 PM

becker - dog walkin' sentence was a GENIUS !

Posted by the baller 10/16/2008 at 10:16 PM

hey Swiss Maestro, so we all know you sweat Roger. Of course he is a great player. But what are you going to do when he struggles to beat Pete's record?

Posted by lois 10/16/2008 at 10:33 PM

What about Rafa,don't you think you should have mentioned him Is he an isvisible spirit or someone who worked very hard to become # 1. Where is the respect,what else does he have to do this yesr to prove his worth. You even spoke of Gublis but not of Rafa-Come on now.

Posted by lois 10/16/2008 at 10:45 PM

Emma, I wanted Rafa to add a new dimention to his game and I am with you-girl,that is an awesome down the line forehand he is developing along with the heavier serve. I thought only I noticed how much he is starting to use it more with pin-point accuracy. KUDOO'S to us.

Posted by Mongnai 10/17/2008 at 12:26 AM

Last few weeks I am excited to watch jj matchesand whether she could get enough points to finish #1 because she said she wanted to finish as #1.

As usual at the end of the season many of the players (Especially WTA) are injuried and getting tired. As a result they couldn’t play well. But at YEC most of top player are playing great tennis.

I look forward healthy Maria will play like she did in this year Australian open and Elena, safina, JJ mange to brong their form to next year.

Last three weeks I was watching WTA matches, but this week we have Master series and all Top players are playing there.

I think the winner of the match today will be

Del potro

Murray Vs monfil and roger Vs del potro matches will be good matches, hopefully.

Posted by zolarafa 10/17/2008 at 01:14 AM

great post as always. and I must say you have the dream job!

***He (Gulbis)has a unique and appealing look as well, even though I can’t describe it at the moment—laid-back, classy, mellow, innocent?&****

Gulbis has all of these. He has fun playing tennis and doesn't hide it. Watch his postmatch interview after losing to Roddick in US OPen. The way he answers the questions is just so smart and funny:
You cannot not love this guy. I hope to see him improve his game, be patient, concentrate more and rise in the rankings.

will you write about Rafa too?

Posted by Quadruple Bagel 10/17/2008 at 03:27 AM

Steve ...

Sorry, but I don't think the Replacements were the same importance to its generation as the Beatles were to there's. Most people, even those from your (mine, too, I think) generation, can't name one song by the Replacements, but mostly everybody knows at least 10 or more Beatles songs alone and they haven't recorded for nearly 40 years.

The Replacements were great, but the Bealtes are simply in a different league from all others, to the point that they're often taken for granted.

Posted by Kenneth 10/17/2008 at 03:35 AM

I only find it odd that you mention the losing Gasquet instead of the winner of that match, who played brilliant tennis btw. In fact, you mention quite a few losers there...

Can't believe how tamely Tsonga packed his bags and dipped. Surprising.

I prefer Simon to the rising star of Gulbis. Gulbis' game can be rushed at times, and he really needs to learn shot selection.

Please keep up the great writing. And yes, stick with the bg noise.

Posted by rg.nadal 10/17/2008 at 05:18 AM

Very nice article. Have to hunt for videos on Marcel G.

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/17/2008 at 10:47 AM

the baller-

What are YOU going to do when he breaks it?? That is the question that is more likely to need an answer.

Posted by Mike 10/17/2008 at 11:40 AM

Fed wins in straights ... 6-3 6-3 ... against ... Del Potro?

I thought he was supposed to .. ;)

Posted by banti 10/17/2008 at 12:23 PM

Supposed too...? I hope the few readers you have, that most likely come here to enjoy the coverage this site brings, understand that your predictions are meaningless. Reader's this guy is a big moron, who has had some vendetta against Roger over the last year. Besides your obvious fed bashing you do, your analysis of other players is way off tangent as well.

By the way ,Steve you coward, you should address how you didn't pick Roger to make the semi's for this one.

Posted by lois 10/17/2008 at 12:24 PM

I have a lot more to blog about but I have my Dr's. appt,can't be late. So very short and quick,Roger's game was impecable and beautiful to watch. You go Boy,what a great player you are and I seen him mouth Thank You to the people(what an assesst to the game you and Rafa are).

Posted by Drop Shot Dragon 10/17/2008 at 01:30 PM

banti - You give Federer fans a bad name. Get therapy. Now.

Posted by Nic 10/17/2008 at 03:23 PM

Hi Steve,

First, the tennis technical stuff. Federer learned his tennis in Switzerland where the clay season runs from May to September and the other 7 months of the year the serious tennis players ply their trade indoors. Heck even in the 5 summer months the weather is unreliable and you can be sure that the serious ones spend a third of that time indoors as well. Therefore I am probably the only one outside of the alpine region not surprised that Federer regularly thrashes the rest of the world on three hours sleep when the end of season masters come around.

Secondly, old buddy old pal, I gotta get something off my chest here about music writing. For me the term is an oxymoron, it's like trying to make a drawing of what something smells like.

I've just put our baby girl to bed with the Tom Petty tune "alright for now". Try reading the text, which in blogger prose would be:
"Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love /May God watch over you from above / Tomorrow I'm working, what would I do /
I'd be lost and lonely, if not for you /So close your eyes /
We're alright for now..."
It goes on.. be honest, did you get to the end or skip over the whole yada yada yada to here, as in "whats yer point, nic?"

Point is, now listen to Tom Petty's guitar arrangement and phrasing of it:

And now try to describe the difference in the experience.

Musicians make music, writers write.

Posted by luxsword 10/17/2008 at 03:30 PM

I can just picture this blog becoming half about tennis and half about music, books and films... lol
I wouldn't mind, this said. :D

Posted by the baller 10/17/2008 at 03:49 PM

who will be facing more nerves in the Federer vs. Murray match? It is no doubt going to be a big one. Both players seem in great form.

Posted by Tigress (Lucky 13) 10/17/2008 at 04:42 PM

I forgot that silly Steve Tignor picked Del Potro in Fed's quarter. I posted in this site 4 days ago rebuking him for such ignorant and biased idiocy, and that he'd be eating his foolish words by the weekend.

Eat your foolish words, Tignor. And try to be more fair and intelligent about Roger in the future, or you will look stupid again in front of everyone here.

Posted by vetmama 10/17/2008 at 04:54 PM

Okay, Steve...

I came over here because Fed just beat Del Potro and I wanted to gloat. It always makes me grumpy when journalists sell Roger short. (he's 27, he's declining, yadayadayada)

Then I see The Replacements? One of my favorite bands ever? Now I can't be pissed off, dang it!:)

Pleased To Meet Me is my favorite, with All Shook Down a close second, but Tim has some amazing songs too (Left Of The Dial, Swingin' Party, Nightclub Jitters, etc).

Paul Westerberg is the most amazing songwriter that most people never heard of.

Posted by Mike 10/17/2008 at 05:16 PM

Ahhh ... I was only ribbing Steve.

It's not impossible to think an off Fed could be toppled by a hot Del Potro ... everyone is entitled to their opinion, including Steve.

... I'm just glad he was wrong. ;)

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!) 10/17/2008 at 05:25 PM

I'm always so amazed that people get sooo worked up about predictions. I mean really - if everyone was great at predictions, wouldn't more people be making fortunes off, er, horse races??

Steve as usual, I enjoyed your meanderings - and i vote to keep the in music!

Posted by Mike 10/17/2008 at 05:35 PM

Dr. Ivo and Gilles at 1 set apiece ...

Posted by Schmutzli 10/17/2008 at 06:59 PM

Of course everyone around here, around everywhere altogether is entitled to their opinion, but I'd readily have expected Mister Tignor to elucidate his hinted prediction of Roger losing to Delpo a little bit more - instead he by-passed it, sparing with words. Does Steve possibly bank on reading the tea leaves?

Posted by Dee 10/17/2008 at 07:12 PM

Gilles Simon - difficult match vs Ivo Karlovic, down a break twice in the 1st and 3rd sets but managing to come through both times. Three 3-set matches vs Andreev, Ginepri and Karlovic. Will he have enough left in his tank when he plays Nadal?

Posted by Steve the narcissistic? 10/17/2008 at 07:13 PM

I agree this is disturbing. He can't address the Federer issue which people obviously want to hear.. I think its his way of attracting attention rather than through intelligent writing that would garner a credible fan base. Steve should take lessons from Peter and if he can't step up should find another place to post his opinions, bc most could do without him.

Posted by Or 10/17/2008 at 07:41 PM

I'll join Vetmama's gloating, Steve, as that was a lovely beatdown, and Del Potro wasn't playing badly at all.

Posted by lois 10/17/2008 at 09:14 PM

Goodnight Guys,Rafa was unbelievable today-he went on his own friend like he stole something. Ivo's ground strokes stunk,but Rafa is right up there with Roger. Please don't be tired and play him or hope he can't play,this my be the kids only Hope.
Stay Well and Safe-Please(I really enjoy all of you ).

Posted by Chamath 10/17/2008 at 10:43 PM

Steve;s predictions have generated so much heated discussion and controversy and although it appears as if some of the disgruntlement and anger over his predictions is unwarranted (after all, they are just projections), all the criticism is completely deserved. Del Potro has never proved or even indicated that he's capable of beating any of the top 4, not does he have the kind of inventive game required to beat Roger. I mean Roger just won a grandslam... what else does a player have to do to be predicted as a semi-finalist in the next big tournament. Saying that Steve is a great writer... even if he is excessively pre-Rafa in his discourse these days.

Posted by Levi 10/18/2008 at 04:37 AM

Its strange how so many critics have written off Federer, including Steve. Its not as if Federer has had a bad year whatsoever.
I found the predictions at this blog to be far more accurate:

However no-one can be blamed for predicting that Djokovic would make it. I think that surprised everyone.

Posted by cruzroja 10/18/2008 at 07:41 AM

How refreshing to see Roger Federer actually having a game plan and for once being disciplined enough to carry it out, as he did against Del Potro. As Juan Delpo remarked after the game, he didn't allow him to play his game at any time.

Posted by Mike 10/18/2008 at 08:14 AM

One thing I find incredible about Fed when he's on his game is when he plays a difficult opponent ... and they hold serve till 4/4, how often he's able to take it up a gear and pounce for the break to serve out the set. Even when it appears that his opponent is able to ace him numerous times up to that point, he turns it up ... gets the ball back some how, gets extremely aggressive, and finds a way to break. Sometimes he seems almost passive up to that point, then turns it on.

Posted by Zairul 10/18/2008 at 09:53 AM

hahaha now Murray is trashing Fed..

Posted by silvasurfa 10/18/2008 at 09:57 AM

murray is da man yo.

stevie t. is looking good right now with his prediction of a nadal-murray final.

Posted by silvasurfa 10/18/2008 at 10:04 AM

man where are the federer hommies?

Posted by Mike 10/18/2008 at 10:09 AM

The way Murray is playing, it won't be long before it's Nadal, Fed, Murray ... if he gets any better, #1 won't be too far away.

Posted by Mike 10/18/2008 at 10:11 AM

I'm a Fed 'hommy' ... he got beat by someone that played better than he did today. Doesn't happen that often, but it did today. What else would you like to hear?

Posted by silvasurfa 10/18/2008 at 10:24 AM

na i'm referring to the ones who got so worked up by stevie tignor's predictions.

c'mon man that's why it's called a prediction. ok maybe he should have explained more why he didn't choose fed in his quarter.

or maybe stevie t predicted someone might play better than fed this week and beat him. he just missed by a match or two.

predictions. predictions.

ciao homs!

Posted by luxsword 10/18/2008 at 11:09 AM

Well, I guess Murray shut up all the Fedtards bashing Steve for his predictions. LOL

Posted by fedtard 10/18/2008 at 11:53 AM

Posted by StevetheReetard 10/16/2008 @ 6:34 PM

"Steve you big dummy once again your knowledge of this game has been clearly demonstrated. I'm speaking of what is yet to come. So far your 3/4 in your predictions. The Federer / Del Potro match being tomorrow, you will be 2/4 for the semis. And if Fed makes it to the finals thats a big 1/4 steve, you loser. Please be wiser in your predictions to avoid looking like the total idiot you are, if the above happens.

this guy probably predict that roger will win every tournament he enters. so far he's only correct 3 out of 15 tournaments roger had entered. who's the idiot now.

what do these fedtards want? that sports writers predict roger to win every tournamnet he enters even if he's not in form?

Posted by Chamath 10/18/2008 at 12:11 PM

The controversial issue here was not whether Federer would make it to the finals or not.. it was whether or not he would make it into the semi's. It was an audacious and ultimately unjustifiable decision by Steve to claim that Fed would not make the semi's and facts show just that. Everyone knew that Andy stood a reasonably good chance, even Fed fans, so the fact that Andy won is not a big deal.... now Federer not beating Del Potro, that would have been a big deal!!!

Posted by silvasurfa 10/18/2008 at 12:30 PM

ah but stevie t's prediction is not that bad man.

you see, fed seems to be playing well at the grand slams. best of 5 sets + 1 day rest in between matches.

at the masters this year, he has yet to win . he seems to be struggling with playing consecutive matches + it seems to be easier for his opponents to beat him in best of 3 set matches. the past few years only nalby,nadal and djoko has beaten him in a best of 5 set match.

looking at his form in best of 3 set matches this year especially against young guns, i even thought tsonga had a 50% chance of beating roger fed. del potro was hotter than tsonga.

cmon man. it's a prediction.

Posted by luxsword 10/18/2008 at 12:38 PM

I just don' see why a prediction should be so controvertial, though. I mean, it's not as if Steve was an oracle who's predictions could change the world... It's one thing to be a tennis addict, quite another to go berserk cause someone doesn't think Federer will win a match. lol

Posted by Chamath 10/18/2008 at 12:46 PM

Yeah it is just a prediction... but Steve is a sports journalist for a pretty prestigious publication.. when he makes the predictions, he's gotta bring the goods in terms of why and then handle the criticism if he turns out to be wrong. As for Fed being tired, I don't think its because he's effete, but because he has these strange error prone stints of play that he has time to overcome during a 5 setter but but cant in the short masters matches.

Posted by silvasurfa 10/18/2008 at 01:06 PM

grand slam matches aside, look at rog's record this year man.
2 titles at relatively small clay and grass tourney.
at the masters series he's reached the SF's only 4 out 8 times. 3 out of 7 prior to tignor's prediction.

only hardcore federer fans will take offense at stevie t's prediction.

as i said earlier i even thought jwtsonga had a 50-50 chance of beating rog.

Posted by Chamath 10/18/2008 at 01:29 PM

Ok well we could argue about this forever... my only point is this: choice between Del Potro, Tsonga and Federer, even in a masters tournament, you'd have to give the edge to Fed.

Posted by Mike 10/18/2008 at 01:41 PM

Fed AND Rafa are out ... strange day.

Posted by lois 10/18/2008 at 01:50 PM

This is a very sad day for me Fed and Rafa both lost,niether could find thier serve after serving and playing all week.
I am Sick.

Posted by luxsword 10/18/2008 at 02:56 PM

Yeah it is just a prediction... but Steve is a sports journalist for a pretty prestigious publication..
But this is a simple blog, not a paper. ;)

Posted by linex 10/18/2008 at 04:03 PM


Last year when you posted a mid Madrid Tournament post you chose the picture of the eventual champion David Nalbandian. This year you chose Gilles Simon, who knows if perhaps the same happens this year and your midweek man turns to be the champion ..

Hope Gilles rests well tonight ...

Posted by BK 10/18/2008 at 10:05 PM

ernests gulbis good analysis
gilles simon what a pusher but a good pusher tho
monfils most athletic person out there but needs to do less of that stupid crap he tries to pull
murray i say is on his way to big success hes got a great baseline game specially that backhand and if hes pulled in hes got great hands overall

Posted by Leah 10/18/2008 at 11:31 PM

Simon is simply amazing! What other player saves 30 break points and comes back from breaks down against Nadal? Not many! He certainly won me over and proved just how match tough he is. I believe he even has a better game than Del Potro. I defetenly see Simon doing well in Australia, especally if he plays like he did today. Good luck in the final tomorrow Simon, I believe he's destined to win the tournament! :)

Posted by 10/19/2008 at 12:40 AM

Steve, Federer does not have every shot in the book. He cannot hit a drop shot. He is able to hit a short slice to draw his opponent into the net but he is not able to hit a drop shot which is amazing and also amazing that this is forgotten by all who claim time and again that he has every shot in the book.

Posted by Farid 10/19/2008 at 03:55 AM

to 'somebody' who posted at 10/19/2008 @ 12:40 AM:

maybe your right Federer doesn't have every shot in the book, but the examples you gave completely doesn't sustain you statement!!
Federer does have a fantastic drop shot, but he doesn't use it very often...get back to the clay season and enjoy waching him doing it!

Posted by Mike 10/19/2008 at 12:13 PM

... and Murray comes back in the tie breaker to take the match in straight sets. Congrats to Murray KADs ... hug for Simon Kads ... great match, especially the tie breaker.

Posted by the baller 10/19/2008 at 04:01 PM

If Roger wanted to hit a drop shot he could - come on now to say that he cant hit one is absurd. The guy has amazing touch and feel. He has said this in the past that he does not like to use the drop shot as he says it 'disrupts the flow of the point.' He also does not like when someone uses the drop shot against him. I remember seeing him use it back at the Australian open when he beat Bagdadis in the final. He used it because Bagdadis used the shot often that tournament.

Posted by kf 10/20/2008 at 12:21 PM

Steve, Having grown up in the Twin Cities, where the Mats formed an essential part of the early Minneapolis music scene (see also, Suicide Commandos, Prince, Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum), I can tell you there might be a literal reference in the "water all around" lyric you site. Minneapolis, where Westerberg grew up, is known as the City of Lakes. At his best, he was a master weaving the literal and the figurative.

There's a review of the song at All Music Guide (

Nice post, by the way.

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