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The Problem-Attacker 02/05/2008 - 3:44 PM

[All photos by our very own Rosangel! - PB]

You know who I've been thinking about a lot lately? Rafael Nadal. I suppose this is because of the progress Novak Djokovic made over the past eight or so months, as well as the degree to which Jet Boy has been spinning his wheels over the same period.

Rafa5_3So how big does Roger Federer's win at Wimbledon last July look now? To me, plenty big - if not as a career-shaping encounter then as a huge missed opportunity for Nadal. I'm open to the idea that Rafa hasn't been quite the same player since that loss.  Certain matches stay with a player much like a lingering cough or cold sometimes remains with us so long that we forget what it's like not to have it.

To attribute Nadal's results in the second half of  last season, and so far in this one, to that Wimbledon final would be presumptuous, unless Jet Boy indicated otherwise. But unlike, say, Federer's recent loss to The Djoker in Australia, there's some distance now between us and that Wimbledon final. It looms fairly large in the rear view mirror, although it's more useful as a reference points for events of the recent past than as a predictor for future ones.

Anyway, I've been thinking that Jet Boy is in a bind. A pattern has been emerging over the past few years, and it suggests that Rafa isn't as well designed to compete in an 11-month season as in a six- month one. Throw in Rafa's increasingly frequent struggle with injury and the case becomes even more persuasive. The long year presents special problems for a player whose game is nothing if not "effortful" and whose zest for combat denies him the use of cruise control.

I wrote some time ago that Nadal is a child of the sun and south, while TMF is a man of the chill and hard north. I stand by that, and believe that the actions and sensibilities of both men bear that out. We are each the sum of history, of particular times, places and antecedents, albeit subject to subversion to greater or lesser degrees - and with greater or lesser consequences.

In an earlier era still dominated by Anglo venues, values and game theory, Nadal would have been deemed a "novelty" - an exotic, volatile, idiosyncratic and unorthodox challenger who was as formidable in his natural environment as a leopard on the veld, but as lost on unfamiliar turf as that same leopard in the boreal forest. The game once was choc-a- bloc with such characters, right into the early Open era. You could call them "provincial" contenders ("provincial" really being more about surface and surroundings than specific geography; remember that for a long time European clay was considered an aberration). Of course, when the "provincial" contenders made the long trip abroad, they often floundered. So let me ask you this: if you had to cast TMF and Nadal as the city mouse and country mouse, is there any doubt over who would play who?

We resist this kind of thinking today for fear of causing offense and stereotyping. We also like to think of tennis as a "one world, one game" enterprise, dedicated to a level global playing field. This reinforces certain strivings for "fairness," never mind the big theme of the brotherhood of man. So we conveniently forget that a playing field is only level in a meaningful way if the athletes bring the same skills and mind-set to it.  Of course, man certainly is more adaptive than a leopard (and you underestimate the powers of a leopard in any environment at your peril). But it's easier to understand people if you see them through the naturally imposed filters.

Hence, Rafa's clay-court game is still a clay-court game, even when it's played on grass, just as a leopard is a leopard even if it kills a stag on an Alpine peak - something of which a leopard is more than capable. The hard bits for the leopard are navigating the foreign terrain and habits of its prey, and whatever degree of instinctual confusion it experiences while so doing.

Rafa4_3Okay, that's a pretty highfalutin' comparison. There are on-the-ground aspects to consider as well. Practically speaking, all players are subject to conditioning, which is why it's usually important for them to establish winning traditions on various surfaces or at a variety of venues early in their careers. Nadal has accomplished this, on a large scale, with his Wimbledon performances and Masters shields.

Yet you could argue that Jet Boy has achieved that mainly on the strength of his fighting spirit and exuberant athleticism; in this interpretation, those have overrun the built-in controls and determinants. In theory, Nadal should not fare nearly as well as he has on those faster surfaces, but then the New York Giants weren't supposed to win the Super Bowl. One of the main reasons we love sports is because of their potential for sedition; we love to see theory ruined and expectations blown up. It tends to reinforce our hope that anything is possible in a way that poses no threat to our equally strong conviction and hope that it is not.

One critical aspect of Nadal's nature is that the non-clay tournaments in which he does well tend to be different from the clay events in which he shines only in the particulars having the most to do with technique and strategy - areas that are of lesser importance to Nadal's genius than others. That is, he does well at events that suit him, in some temperamentally  rather than purely technical way.

Nadal's performance at Wimbledon last year was impressive to me because he kept his desire and spirits up despite the rain and gloom, not because he managed to cobb together a passable game to go with his mental and emotional strengths. The further Nadal gets from the warmth of the sun, the breezes that wash over a court, and the smell of freshly watered clay, the less well he does. Come the Paris Indoors, and he's a mess of conflicting signals - never a good thing for a predator. I think he responds to environment in as significant a way as he does to surface speed, and I know that's a pretty radical notion.

The most puzzling aspect of Rafa's resume is his relatively poor performances at the sunny, warm, colorful US Open. But in this, he's similar to many other players who are essentially provincial. The American major has proven to be a formidable stumbling block for many players from outside the U.S., and often for reasons obviously having nothing to do with the surface - and everything to do with the full menu of New York's famed distractions. In fact, Roger Federer's ability to overcome the habitual European fear of the American challenge is a particularly powerful testament to his versatility and underscores the degree that he has transcended whatever provincial urges once defined him. His most valuable asset in that regard has been his cool temperament; he took measure of the event and then tailored his approach and game to ensure a good fit.

TMF is a problem-solver; Rafa is a problem-attacker.

That suggestion may ring true for those of you who are familiar with all those studies about how little boys tend to try to break through walls while little girls are more likely to navigate around them. Nadal's greatest strength, as well has his most outstanding weakness, is his boyishness. This is a lingering condition that all but defines him to many of us. It is why so many people love him, and why disliking him has always seemed to me a little like disliking a kid brother. Rafa is the Little Engine that Could, never mind that he what he "could" do is blast a tennis ball through your forehead with such force that it would leave a volleyball-sized exit wound on the back of your skull.

But for all his bellicose instincts (does anyone else spank the ball as gleefully as Jet Boy?), he continues to engage us with incredible charm and insouciance. We all know how Uncle Toni insists that Rafa not get a swelled head - that Toni makes Rafa carry his own bags, and has him sweep the court after practice. We all know that the photo ops of Nadal tend to produce images of Rafa blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, surrounded by Spanish journalists in some press room, rather than shots of him with a dude all in black on one side, and a ranking fashionista on the other.

Rafparis_3 Nadal has resisted, or is impervious to, sophistication. If Federer is the game's ambassador to the world, Rafa is its poster boy; frankly, I'm amazed that nobody has come up with a comic strip character based on Nadal yet; instead of lugging around a football or a security blanket, he could drag around a tennis racket. We love TMF for his skill, we love Jet Boy for his exuberance. If there is a caveat to that, it's this: Going forward, it may be increasingly difficult for Rafa to rely on exuberance (and in him, even his stamina, strength and will seem subordinate to it) to the same degree he has so far in his career.

What got me thinking along these lines has been Djokovic's progress. Another man of northern inclinations, Djoker has matured as a player at an amazing rate. I get the sense that he's measured up his mission with a cold eye and concluded, "I can do this. This is what I need to do to make this happen." Yet when I try to come up with a comparably simple (and perhaps simplistic) formulation for Nadal, I come up only with: "I go and play my game and I fight, we see what happen, no?"

That approach is disarmingly honest and touching. And like any child - or, in this case, manchild - Nadal does "touching" very well. I'm not suggesting that Nadal would benefit from an intensive course of Tennis Technique and Strategy, 101. It's too late for that, and the elements at play here go much deeper. The boyishness of Nadal, which has always been such a great source of his appeal, may also hold him back. A comparison with Bjorn Borg seems in order here. Borg, at 16, played like he was 23, and at 25 he played like he was 23. Nadal at 16 played like he was 18, and at 21 he plays like he's 18.

Of course, you can reduce the line items on Nadal's resume to X's and O's. Sure, he could flatten out his forehand, play more from inside the court on hard courts and really force the action. But it would be naive to assume that Nadal and his team haven't thought about that; it's more likely that Nadal's game has changed so little because: a: it works, and, b: he has a temperamental disposition to play the way he does.

Hail, at some deep level, he may enjoy playing the way he does too much to bother with all the rest of it. Leave that to the "students of the game" and to those who are more inclined to calculation. This kid is having fun in a way he has not outgrown yet.

Whatever the case, Nadal is only 21, and - injury aside - he's got plenty of time to figure things out. I've always liked my youth young, if you know what I mean.

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Posted by marieJ in fed's fan shoes 02/06/2008 at 06:55 PM

tooooo late !
g' night all...
jbrad don't get a crush on hot sauce, i think someone owns him here at the tribe ;)

Posted by jbradhunter 02/06/2008 at 06:58 PM

marieJ- he's much too young for me... wait, I really shouldn't be so picky
hee hee

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 06:59 PM

Wow...Disco looks the hottest one in that pic. Who'da thunk it?

Posted by ptenisnet 02/06/2008 at 07:09 PM

Is disco the Alex Corretja of this era?

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 07:16 PM

jbrad - Missie took quite a few photos of Hott Sauce last year at IW that showed off his fab physique
He has always been pretty buff -
but you are right, that particular shot looks more like Rafa's arms

snoo - funny - that does look like the McD uniform
sorry , Spain and spanish friends

Tari - yep that is one pretty yummy line up
let's super size it - ok ?

Posted by Bismarck 02/06/2008 at 07:16 PM

good post at 4.51, marieJ. you always find the right tone (i hope that´s the way one says it in english, looks strange).

belatedly, but what is *peluche*?

Posted by Sherlock 02/06/2008 at 07:20 PM

"let's super size it - ok ?"

Well done, Beth. :)

Right on the money, Bismarck. :)

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 07:24 PM

I tried to google peluche
all I come up with is "fluff"

could it be a pillow ?

Posted by 02/06/2008 at 07:25 PM

Is it a stuffed animal?

Posted by Aussie Ange 02/06/2008 at 07:25 PM

Hey jbrad *waving* and to everyone else

Maybe he superimposed Rafa's arms onto the photo. I don't think I would call him skinny.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 02/06/2008 at 07:33 PM

You know what drew me to Roger Federer besides his beautiful game? The vulnerability and sensitivity that I saw in him, and his show of emotion after his matches. Have you ever seen any player cry the way he did after he won his first Wimbledon? Or stutter and sob like he did after AO '06?

Roger may not jump up and down and shadow box, and race to the baseline like a boxer just before his match begins. He may not yell "Vamos" and pump his fists in an aggressive display of too much testosterone. He may not have an intimidating physique with bulging biceps and six-pack abs.

Yet, there is a quiet determination about him, at times displayed more outwardly by a big "C'MON!" and accompanied by little fist pumps. At other times, when he is not confident and his game is not quite on, then his frustration and disappointment are evident in his body language, and in his face. I can always tell how he is feeling because his eyes give him away. This is why I am still perplexed when people refer to him as "robotic". To me, this man reads like an open book.

In fact, a part of me wishes that Roger were "robotic", I wish he had nerves of steel and the ability to block out all his emotions and play with rational thinking and no emotion whatsoever. If he did, then I am convinced he would have won the French in '06 or '07, and maybe even both. Roger used to be outwardly emotional when he was younger, and it's not like he just turned off his emotions - they are still very much a part of his character ... the only difference is that he is able to keep it in check most of the time, and not show it too much outwardly. As for his mental toughness - he had to grow into it, it didn't come to him naturally. That is why, he still exhibits some vulnerability in this aspect when under pressure, when he is not playing well.

But to each one his own. Some of you don't see what I see in Federer, and so he seems "passionless" and "unemotional" to you. I see quite the opposite, and that is why I feel such a connection to him as a person.

Posted by zonie 02/06/2008 at 07:38 PM

Nice Davis Cup pictures. Very nice picture of Marat, nice to see him smiling again.

I do not like the spanish team shirts either. As far as I recall, Verdasco has always been pretty buff, but he usually doesn't play with sleeveless shirts, so we do not notice it as much.

Posted by 02/06/2008 at 07:42 PM

I don't believe Marat is smiling anymore--he pulled out of DC with a toe injury.

Posted by zonie 02/06/2008 at 07:44 PM

Oh, dang. Thank you anonymous poster.

Posted by Bismarck 02/06/2008 at 07:46 PM

thanks, Sherlock.

i´m relieved that i´m not the only one in clueless-valley but errh is no one around who is in the know? peluche..? anyone..? anyone..? ;)

why not the FO 05 for "RoboRog" too?
*I wish he had nerves of steel and the ability to block out all his emotions and play with rational thinking and no emotion whatsoever. If he did, then I am convinced he would have won the French in '06 or '07, and maybe even both.*

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 07:46 PM

peluche, yes, is stuffed animal, although maybe in mallorqui it means something like pubic wig which would, uh, really turn the tables.

"an aggressive display of too much testosterone"


Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 07:48 PM

that is disappointing for Marat
I was looking forward to seeing how he fared against Nole
the Russians are playing Serbia , right?

Posted by 02/06/2008 at 07:49 PM

"My son couldn't be separated from his pubic wig when he was little" gee, it just doesn't sound right.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 07:50 PM

well , Snoo, if peluche did mean pubic wig in Mallorqui it would give more credence to my bad boy theory on Rafa

but , I think stuffed animal is probably correct
wasn't he looking for a gift for a younger cousin maybe
I am trying to remember that blog

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 07:53 PM

"wasn't he looking for a gift for a younger cousin maybe"

oh beth I have bad news for you about your bad boy.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 07:56 PM

Snoo - yeah the bad news is .. he only looks like a rebel without a cause
he is a pretty good kid from all reports

Posted by Bismarck 02/06/2008 at 07:56 PM

aaah. thanks, Snoo.
tell the story, i don´t remember. was he looking for a peluche for himself?

Posted by 02/06/2008 at 07:57 PM

Speaking of pubic wig, I was looking forward to Marat playing in DC, too.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 07:58 PM

ok - am I the only one with typepad issues today
I am so tired of reopening the tennis .com web site
because my stupid computer won't refresh today

Posted by zonie 02/06/2008 at 08:00 PM

I was hoping he was buying the stuffed animal for his girlfriend, but he never did clarify in his blog.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 02/06/2008 at 08:00 PM

"why not the FO 05 for "RoboRog" too?"
Well, Bismarck ... because Roger played simply too badly in that SF against Rafa to win it. At that time, it didn't seem like a mental problem - he just didn't seem like a great clay-court player then.

FO '06 was different - this is where you could see the mental stranglehold Nadal had over him. I think losing the Rome final against Rafa (after being up 2 breaks in the fifth set) was a huge psychological blow for Roger, and I think it drained any confidence he had. FO '07 --- well, I keep thinking about all those breakpoints in the first set that he did not convert - if he had, could he have won the match? Perhaps. Then again, I guess we'll never know ...

Posted by Aussie Ange 02/06/2008 at 08:01 PM

MarieJ that sounds like a great Valentine Day thing to do. I have to babysit.

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 08:02 PM

beth stick with c-word, that boy has bad all over his face.

bizzer I don't remember it all, just him out in the rain at night, roaming the streets of some tantalizing locale, searching frantically for a STUFFED ANIMAL. I could even be inventing the rain for stylistic purposes. I just had this blade runner scenario, nanner in some futuristic place, alone in the crowds, a man on a mission... to buy a beanie baby.

Posted by zonie 02/06/2008 at 08:02 PM

Bissy: here is the blog entry where Rafa mentions the peluche.

Posted by Rosangel 02/06/2008 at 08:04 PM

Um. I think some of us who could not be counted among Federer's fan, or who are just indifferent, discern the passion, emotion or whatever in the man perfectly well. It just doesn't elicit any feelings of particular connection in everyone who sees it. That's just a fact - no criticism implied.

I didn't see anyone in this thread say that he was passionless or unemotional. In fact, I don't think I've seen anyone in TW say this as such - only have seen his fans "defend" him against the supposed charge.

Maybe someone can point me towards the place where this was said or implied.

Posted by Manolo 02/06/2008 at 08:05 PM

Peluche is stuffed anymal... Makes me remember of some very funny comercials in Venezuela with some guy saying "Cuidado con el Peluche!" (Beware of the stuffed animal) and some random human-sized stuffed animal went and attacked him...

Ok. On the "Stereotype" thingy, I want to say that its about tastes when it comes to descriptions. Let me elaborate.
Pete style (if I read him correctly) goes for something I like to call "Layering". You add the first most obvious layer to then add other layers that give depth to the character. The problem with this kind of descriptions are that sometimes they might evoke the wrong thoughts. Something to do with clichés, culture and points of view.

Let me try something to see if I can make myself understood (gonna describe myself to do so):


-I like to use the computer, play chess and I have great grades (Nerd)
-I like to play tennis, play soccer, read about sports (Sports Junke)
-I am quiet, reserved and thoughtful.(Introverted)
-I like to laugh and make people laugh. (Extroverted)

The problem with "layering" is that sometimes It doesnt add up too easily. I mean, according to what I wrote, I am an "introverted-extroverted nerdy, sports junke"... I mean, who the hail knows what that means?

On the other hand, the descriptions I like are the ones that "name" the facts, and leave the readers to interpret what they want. It makes up for more universal, yet specific, descriptions.

PS: Marta, Barca 6 points away... there is still hope for a Liga title.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/06/2008 at 08:05 PM

Unless as you say, peluche is euphemism for something else. In which case the whole rainy, futuristic foreign place might be just the thing.

Posted by zonie 02/06/2008 at 08:06 PM

Sorry Snoo, your story was a lot more colorful than the blog entry. I think I like yours better. Actually, I kind of recall that it was Ferru walking in the rain in Shanghai, a man on a mission..

Posted by Flyer 02/06/2008 at 08:06 PM


Very nice post - and very astute.

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 08:09 PM

no dude that cannot be the same peluche story, I don't know which is scarier, that the nanner wrote two totally different blogs about shopping for peluches, or that I think THE CITY I LIVE IN is some tantalizing futuristic locale...

Posted by 02/06/2008 at 08:10 PM


Let it go for once - let a fan just express their feelings without commentary - as you so often request when you express your feelings or reactions to the players who float your boat.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 08:10 PM

Ros - I think I borrowed your analogy of the boy your mother wanted you to date - for Roger
anyway , that was the whole jist of the controversial discussion

snoo - nope - there is no bad boy there , either
in fact , he was down right"aw shucks" awkward around the girl at my table :)
and was thoroughly dressed down by his coach for attempting to make contact
not exactly the stuff of bad boy dreams

and well - it's not like I would really leave my husband for any of these guys
or that they would be even remotely interested in me at this point in time

However, were I in my 20's and still single - I can assure you - they would notice

Posted by Voks 02/06/2008 at 08:15 PM

Just returned, i should have gotten wireless instead this c**p...

marieJ, great piece back there...

gee, I'm hooked... and its good for my englAish to...

Just took couple of beers on the way - God, I feel like I could write so much...

Posted by Rosangel 02/06/2008 at 08:17 PM

I have never yet seen the need to express my feelings anonymously, and again - I have no idea who was suggesting that Fed is passionless.

Nor do I take any exception to what some Nadal fans might term insulting from the same poster ("too much testosterone").

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 08:17 PM

oh no this is just getting worser and worser, now it's ferru who was searching for the peluche in the rain? those hot blooded spaniards and their plush toys.

beth something about the c-word 08 makes me think he's... baddened. and who knows what happens when deblicker calls it a night. jejejeje.

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 08:20 PM

pfft I take exception to it whatever that means exactly, but hey tells me more about her than him, sez I.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 02/06/2008 at 08:21 PM

colts2008 - your 10:16 AM post is dead-on !
I too think we aren't giving Nadal enough credit - the guy keeps on improving, and he's only 21 ! His results last year on hardcourt were better than the year before, and it's very possible that this year he may do even better. He doesn't lose to just anybody ... his losses have been to players running a hot streak - Tsonga at AO this year, Ferrer at USO last year, Gonzo at AO last year. Losing Wimbledon last year was a huge disappointment to him, but I think mostly because he knew he had chances to win it, and he came so so close. I think he's going to use that experience positively, and he'll be even more motivated to win it this year. Unfortunately for him, he now has Djokovic to contend with as well. No, we don't need to worry about Nadal - he has plenty of reserves left, and I just don't see him as another Lleyton Hewitt - not even close !

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 08:22 PM

Snoo - I am getting a laugh out of the hot blooded spanish peluche
maybe it is a blow up doll
like the kind that Roddick said Spadea had as his "date"

and maybe Richard has gotten an edge -
I will let you know if he is at our hotel again and if he remembers Missie
I will know if I need to watch him more closely around her
He seemed fairly harmless and sweet last year
course, now that he is 21 that may have changed

as for my daughter - I watch her pretty closely - it is hard for her to sneak too much past me - having been the teen I once was - I am not exactly clueless to the tricks girls use to get away from their mothers :)

Posted by Rosangel 02/06/2008 at 08:24 PM

Beth: the boys my mother wanted me to date (well, more than one) was/were basically really nice guys, and I always acknowledged that. But, personal chemistry and/or a fan attraction are often mysterious.

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 08:27 PM

yeah beth maybe it's just the new atp mugshot but he looks like he should be selling bootleg pall malls out of the back of an el camino in the parking lot at the county fair.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 08:29 PM

Ros - mine too - my mother tried really hard
and the minute she said "what a nice boy"
I found a reason not to like them - just for spite
My analogy here is that for me - I react in that same way to Federer
In spite of being told how great he is ( which I can see )
I find myself being turned off
That is all
now , this is becoming another dead horse
and I wish I had not said anything about it !

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 02/06/2008 at 08:30 PM

Ok, I take back the "too much testosterone" remark. I didn't realize it was insulting when I wrote it, but in hindsight, I should have been more mindful. I really don't have anything against Rafa's displays of exuberance, honestly. It's just not what draws me. It's a matter of personal taste, I guess. The players I have adored before Fed were Edberg and Rafter. So that gives you an idea of my taste.

But yes, I am growing increasingly tired of people using Rafa as an example of why Roger is so "boring". Hence my post. My feelings are best described by Pete Sampras himself. I quote:
"What he's doing, and how he's doing it, I respect. Every fan, every media person, has a different sort of athlete (they respect) and he's my sort of guy. He's not brash, he's not abrasive. He lets his racket do the talking. I don't think that's a negative. To hear someone say he's boring, I'm tired of hearing that (stuff). It's nauseating. Just respect what he's doing."

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 08:31 PM

thanks for the heads up , snoo
I will have to check out this mugshot
and keep him away from my little princess

although I am quite sure that will make him all the more appealing to her :)

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 08:35 PM

ok - I looked at the Gasquet mugshot
he does look older and more edgy in that photo
I see what you mean, Snoo

Posted by zonie 02/06/2008 at 08:38 PM

Gee - now you guys made me go look at gasquet's mug. We need a link.

Hmmm, may he does look like a carny. I'll have to think about this.

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 08:39 PM

My mom had GREAT taste. My dad was a prince. Married my mom with a ready-made family - three kids already, and had four more! I would have listened to anything my mom said about men. Smart woman. :))

Posted by Sher 02/06/2008 at 08:40 PM

Tari, wow! 7 kids?

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 08:44 PM

Yeah, Sher! I'm very blessed with my brothers and sisters. I'm really proud of Mom and Dad for that. They're gone, but we're all really close...our kids are close.

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 08:45 PM

What's the french word for rohypnol?

Posted by Samantha Elin 02/06/2008 at 08:46 PM

In terms of hotness, I don't think the modern players can compete with the players of the past. I mean Federer really doesn't have girls chasing him down like Borg did. Also, look at Edberg, he was gorgeous. And then of course there is Cliffie, I mean like wow! But what appeal to one person, mayn't be appealing to another. So beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I here that alot.

Posted by Rosangel 02/06/2008 at 08:48 PM

CfR - well, I was a big fan of Rafter and Edberg too. An entertaining (?!) experience of my recent life - literally crushed against Edberg in a crowd after his match with Henman at the BlackRock Masters, staring at the back of the guy's neck, listening to him having very polite little chats with various fans who were asking for his autograph. And I was there with my massive camera, weighed down, trying to get out without hitting Edberg with my lens, and blocked by the fans there. And he patiently kept on signing autographs.

I finally get *that* close to Stefan Edberg, and I'm there in an "official" capacity for TW and weighed down with camera equipment:) Oh well. He was very charming to his fans, as I saw at first hand. And, I have to admit, that being there with a press pass gives you a different perspective - it was more like my "real" career, where the people I would typically meet or interview aren't tennis players.

I actually don't think that Federer is boring. On an intellectual level, I find him pretty interesting, and certainly worthy of respect - just don't react to him on what you might call an elemental level.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D 02/06/2008 at 08:49 PM

Tari: I'm guessing you're one of the oldest?

Posted by Bismarck 02/06/2008 at 08:49 PM

5th avenue sounds like a tantalizing futuristic locale to me.
but now i´m intrigued that there might be a second peluche story with ferru...

thanks for the link, zonie.

Posted by CM 02/06/2008 at 08:51 PM

Ah Crazy-for-Roger...thanks for the great posts. No one was more stoic than Borg oncourt and yet I adored him. Roger is way more expressive than that! But is quiet compared to Nadal. I hate in-your-face oncourt behavior like J-Mac and Connors. But I don't see Nadal like that. I have never had a problem with a 'come on' or a 'fist pump' from any player.

And thanks for reprinting the quote from Sampras. He's dead right. And he should know...he was labeled with the boring moniker probably more than anyone.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 08:53 PM

Tari-your family sounds terrific . that is very special
my dad is pretty terrific - too - so my mom did something right
but her choices for me -no way
1) her dear friend's son - who lived on a bona fide cotton plantation complete with bloodhounds - who at 17 was balding and incredibly dull
2) a young med student - who sweet talked her - but who I had to beat away before he tried to perform some "labwork " on me in his car
3)a young engineering student - who showed up and was eager to "help her out " around the house - but spent an inordinate amount of his free time stoned out of his mind

After those 3 suggestions- I figured she really did not know what she was talking about

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 08:54 PM

Mr. and Mrs. D: Nope! Second to youngest. :)

Posted by CM 02/06/2008 at 08:55 PM

***Crazy-for-Roger wrote: ...(Nadal) losing Wimbledon last year was a huge disappointment to him, but I think mostly because he knew he had chances to win it, and he came so so close...***

Yes, it is totally understandable that a loss like that can stick with you. I'm sure that loss could have affected Nadal mentally for a while. I have no doubt that Roger felt the exact same way after the Rome final loss; and I truly believe it affected his belief in himself when he played Nadal again at RG.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D 02/06/2008 at 08:55 PM

hmmm...that whole birth order theory just flew out the window

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 08:59 PM

Actually, mom only fixed me up with a date once. She really wasn't one to do that. And I think it was a hasty decision (I had just broken up with my bf and was inconsolable), so I would give her a pass there. But she was soooo sharp about all of the significant others of my siblings, etc., over the years.

I was just sort of teasing you, anyway... ;-)

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 09:01 PM

What's the birth order theory? Do tell. :)

Posted by CM 02/06/2008 at 09:02 PM

***In terms of hotness, I don't think the modern players can compete with the players of the past. I mean Federer really doesn't have girls chasing him down like Borg did. Also, look at Edberg, he was gorgeous.***

Let's face it - it was the 70s, Borg was a teen, and he had long blonde a young girl, there was no one sexier in my book. And he had the best legs on tour, especially with those short shorts.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D 02/06/2008 at 09:06 PM

I don't remember specifics but the gist is that one's personality is based on their birth order (oldest, youngest ,etc). Older siblings supposedly make good marital matches with younger ones. Older siblings nurture while younger ones tend to respond to being taken care of.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 09:06 PM

apparently , my mom was easily sweet talked
of course, that worked out for me fairly well

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 09:10 PM

I'm guessing that you get the feeling that I'm a nurturer then, Mr. and Mrs. D? Is that it? Interesting. :)

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 09:12 PM

Tari- I would guess that as well
just based on most of your posts
you were also the peacemaker in your family
would be my guess

Posted by MrsSanta 02/06/2008 at 09:13 PM

Ptenis where are you? That essay is going a long way towards erasing the horror of that Verdasco pic. Dont EVER do that again Jbrad.

My favorite bit so far. Aoplogies to any Jacob Hlasek fans.

"Jacob Hlasek is 6'2' and built like a halfback. His blond hair in a short square cut with icy blue eyes and cheekbones out to there. He looks like a either a nazi male model or a lifeguard in hell and generally seems way too scary to talk to. "

I didn't need to know about Joyce's virginity though.

Posted by Samantha Elin 02/06/2008 at 09:14 PM

My mom, absolutely HATES my taste in guys, but she recognizes and respect that it really is my choice. Parents should never fixs their kids up on date because they are picking the person based upon what they like and it maybe the opposite of what the kid like.

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 09:17 PM

Gosh, you nailed it, Beth. That's me. My family would probably not fit into the birth order theory at all. I wonder why now...must look into this. :)

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D 02/06/2008 at 09:18 PM

Not a nurturer so much. You definitely state your opinions here, but you're quick to smooth any feathers you may have ruffled. You keep the peace. You're also very quick to welcome new posters. Not too much self-centeredness(sp?) there -- surely signs of an older sibling in an earlier life, maybe.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/06/2008 at 09:19 PM

Right here santa. That was quick. I didn't think it was that easy to find that book.

Posted by beth 02/06/2008 at 09:20 PM

I am just trying to remember Hlasek- he did kind of look like a lifeguard
if I remember right

My mother meant well - when she tried to fix me up . I was always glad that I did not live in a society that was built on arranged marriages . I cannot imagine who my parents would have chosen

Posted by SCT 02/06/2008 at 09:21 PM

"just don't react to him on what you might call an elemental level."

In other words, he's not hott. ;-)

Posted by MrsSanta 02/06/2008 at 09:22 PM

Ooo I've just come across the first instance of Agassi hateration tucked away nicely in a footnote about tennis pros' copious perspiration.

"Sampras always wears light blue shorts that sweat through every place but his jockstrap, which looks funny and endearing like he's an incontinet child..Sampras is surprisingly cute and childlike on the court, in person, in contrast to Agassi who's about as cute as a Port Authority whore"

I think I just choked on my tongue due to laughing too hard.

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 09:26 PM

Well, thank you. That's a great compliment, Mr. and Mrs. D. :) But part of that is because I really do love the people here, and we all have our days, I guess. So it's the crowd here that inspires me to make that effort, I think. Geez, that reads really cheesy...but true. :)

Older sibling in an earlier life, eh? :)

Posted by ptenisnet 02/06/2008 at 09:27 PM

Yep. He says all this stuff about agassi and you think - dude, that's a bit unkind. And then towards the end he tells you exactly how he feels.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/06/2008 at 09:27 PM

I'm the oldest though I do have some qualities of an only child because I was 7 when my brother was born

Tari- 7 kids OMG how fun!

And my Mother hated the girls I picked- she thought they were- well... what's the most polite word? Madonna-(Ciccone)-esque-

she tried to fix me up once with a really sweet- too sweet- girl though

Posted by malimeda 02/06/2008 at 09:29 PM

Re peluche: it is indeed a stuffed animal, but might be a special kind of stuffed animal (resembling a sock-puppet) that serves a specific purpose, to protect the head of a golf club while in bag. Rafa is an avid amateur golfer, not only while away on tour, but also in Mallorca and I remember seeing several of his photos while golfing, his picturesque golf bag in the background and those cute fluffy club covers shaped as heads of a hippo, a donkey, a camel... He might be buying one of these each time he's in NY.

Posted by MrsSanta 02/06/2008 at 09:31 PM

One of the conveniences of working right across from borders.

Connors is described as having " the serve of an ectomorphic girl". He also apparently used "the single shittiest tennis racquet ever made and is regarded by most serious players as useful only for prying large rocks out of your backyard".

I think I have to stop now.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/06/2008 at 09:32 PM

MrsSanta- where are getting these snarky quotes?

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 09:32 PM

That's so cute, malimeda! I love those fun club covers. I think it really shows a lot of personality to be traipsing around with a golf bag full of animals. Hee. My son has a club cover that is a black labrador, like our dog. I wish I could find another one for my bag. :)

Posted by jbradhunter 02/06/2008 at 09:33 PM

ooh- this TV show "Moment of Truth" is wonderful and horrible

Posted by ptenisnet 02/06/2008 at 09:33 PM

speaking of borders: the borders near my house closed without warning. i am devastated. i am being subjected to a single bookstore chain monopoly now.

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 09:35 PM

errr, that's an ambitious hypothesis malimeda but I'm not falling for it.

Posted by MrsSanta 02/06/2008 at 09:36 PM

Jbrad its from an essay by David Foster Wallace on Michael Joyce of all people. Ptenis recommended it.

Ptenis how much do you think he hates Djokovic's game?

Posted by Bismarck 02/06/2008 at 09:38 PM

*and those cute fluffy club covers shaped as heads of a hippo, a donkey, a camel... He might be buying one of these each time he's in NY.*

it gets more and more interesting. i´m so glad i asked about peluche.
thanks malimeda.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/06/2008 at 09:41 PM

I dont think he has a problem with agassi's game do you?

Posted by Rosangel 02/06/2008 at 09:46 PM

Older siblings are supposed to be competitive and to have the desire to succeed beyond that of the younger ones.

Being the eldest myself, I can relate.

Posted by Snoo Foo 02/06/2008 at 09:46 PM

The Nanner said he was buying his peluche at a store next to the Apple Store on Fifth Ave. I hate to break it to you but that store is not a golf store. By any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by MrsSanta 02/06/2008 at 09:49 PM

Where I am so far it seems so. He appreciates the skill but given that he compares watching Agassi's style of play to a "a film of the old Soviet Union putting down a rebellion" I would say he doesn't like it. Maybe I haven't read far enough.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/06/2008 at 09:51 PM

Remind me to take a trip to FAO Schwartz when I'm in NY next- I have got to see all the cool stuff

I'm very competitive and growing up was deliriously jealous of my 2 younger siblings- LOL

Posted by MrsSanta 02/06/2008 at 09:52 PM

I like this sentence completely devoid of context

"Agassi's balls look more like Borg's balls would have looked if Borg had been on a year long regimen of both steroids and methamphetamines...."

Reading about how shockingly hard Agassi hit seems quaint.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/06/2008 at 09:52 PM

now it's just moments of delirious jealousy :)

Posted by Tari 02/06/2008 at 09:53 PM

We'll go to FAO Schwartz before the cupcake shop, jbrad. :) (No, I'm not giving up my cupcake dream!)

Posted by 02/06/2008 at 09:53 PM

By virtue of being older, the older siblings are seen as more successful by younger siblings. Most younger siblings, in trying to keep up, become more competitive and eventually outshine their older siblings.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/06/2008 at 09:55 PM

Tari- at this rate, we may have to set aside a complete day to enjoy the city

and I have not forgotten the cupcakes either :D

there IS some shopping I could do too

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