Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Pieces of Everybody
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Pieces of Everybody 06/04/2008 - 2:14 PM


I watched a fair amount of women's tennis these past few days, so I thought I'd give it a break and check out the men's quarters today. I was feeling pretty invincible, so I left my helmet back in the press center as I went to watch Roger Federer grapple with Fernando Gonzalez. The press section at Suzanne Lenglen is right behind the baseline, and you know how Gonzo is with those optic yellow IFOs.

Not too many players are inclined to step up against Gonzo and trade shots with him on his terms, but you know how The Mighty Fed is; going in against most guys, his attitude is, Hey, everybody gets a trophy! He's not the type to rub your nose in his excellence, so if you want to bang big forehands from the baseline, bring it on, and if you're lucky you might walk away feeling pretty danged good about yourself - even though you lost.

And so it was. Roger was kitted out, like Maria Sharapova (and half of the rest of the planet, it seems), in that navy, authentic flight attendant uniform. And he wasted no time conveying to the faithful in Lenglen that it was time to fasten their seat belts and stow their tray tables. At the start, though, the distinction between pilot and co-pilot was unclear; it was that kind of day for Gonzalez. The 10-1 head-to-head advantage Federer toted into the arena was comforting for TMF fans; on the other hand, the men have the same number of clay-court titles (7), and they share 7th place on list of active players headed by Rafael Nadal with 21 (that's no typo). But let's leave that problem for another day - Sunday, maybe?

Anyway, Gonzo was on fire in the first set, with TMF happily throwing gasoline onto the blaze. It didn't seem to bother him that playing right into the wheelhouse of the only man in the Roland Garros draw who hasn't lost a match on clay (Gonzo was 16-0) may not have been his best strategy. It should be abundantly clear by now that on any surface, against any man (but one), Roger don't need no stinkin' strategy. He can let an opponent set the table, serve the meal, pour the wine, choose the desert - and guess who ends up getting stuck with the check?

You know, I'm only semi-kidding about that strategy bit. This match, at least the first set, was a marvelous demonstration that when two quality players go into a match with the right, bold, relaxed attitude, one thing and one thing only counts: which one can utilize the court space that tiny bit better, in a way that, even if it doesn't exactly put an opponent back on his heels, forces him to hit shots slightly outside his comfort zone - a little too high, a little too low, a little too far wide to either side for the hombre to get a great look and unload a harsh blast.

Gosh it was nice watching two terrific players hitting the ball without inhibition, picture-perfect placements pouring off each of their rackets, leaving you free from having to figure out just who was trying to do what, and with what degree of success, like some freakin' tennis expert or something. You want to talk about the shanked volley that saved a break point for TMF at in the first game of the first set (a game he saved after being down love-40), go right ahead. Or the way Gonzo stepped around a penetrating forehand service return to powder an inside-out winner to save the second game of the second set? Feel free. Just leave me out of it, I was too busy enjoying myself just watching this one. It's something everyone ought to try sometime. . .

But getting back to the match: I sat with Chuck Culpepper a London-based Los Angeles Times correspondent, and  an old pal, ESPN commentator Luke Jensen. It was agreeable company in which to savor a match, and a player who has created an unprecedented marriage between "beautiful" tennis and winning tennis. Over the years I've seen many players who had pretty games; the signature weakness of most of them was an inability to convert their conspicuous talent and versatility into hard Ws. I asked my friends if either of them could think of a guy with a comparably fetching game, and we began comparing TMFs various strokes with those of other icons. Luke put it best when he observed. "It's like he has pieces of everybody (great)."

Wish I'd thought of that line myself. So I did the next best thing, I stole it.

Back to the match. Gonzo took the first set, with Roger giving him the reins to see how well and far he might run. To be honest, at times Roger seemed a smidgen apprehensive, as if he were thinking, What did I get myself into, going out to trade boomers with this guy? And Gonzo gave TMF all he could handle in that first set, winning it, 6-2.


"Well, the thing was I almost got myself in trouble in early in my own service games, you know.  And then I would have 30 All points sometimes where maybe just not quite sure what to do yet, you know, just sort of getting into the game.

"Those were reasons why I got broken early on.  That didn't happen anymore towards the end, you know, because it wouldn't be at 30 All, it would be at 40 15, and everything is just a touch easier when you're up in the game.

"I made sure I got more first serves in, you know, because I realized it was not going to make much of a difference if I would serve 210 or 190.  He would chip it back the same way. But that got me more safety, and then I could my forehand started to work better and better.  I started to move him around, and I think I played a smart match in the end."

Such details are of passing interest, of course. They explain why TMF lost the first set, 2-6, instead of winning it by that margin. Those reasons undoubtedly flickered in Federer's mind, like shadows on a wall, when he was - very inconspicuously, given the way he was hitting the ball - in danger. But the last bit of the quote was both revealing and explanatory.

Okay, full disclosure: during the first game of the second set, I jotted the note, "Roger needs to slow it down." And that's pretty much what Roger did, given that mixing it up, hitting a few wrist-jarring first serves, ending points by sneaking in to put away volleys is tantamount to slowing it down against a player, like Gonzo, who has just two gears - fifth and overdrive. As the second set unfolded, you could almost feel Federer imposing a template on the game. He took command of the pace, and stepped up to challenge Gonzo to beat him at his game, rather than his own. It was Roger Federer, in his own, magisterial, bad-self way, letting Gonzo know that while he would indeed get a trophy, it would be a smaller one than his own. Like it or not.Gonzo

Now TMF was in silent running mode. While Gonzo let out hellacious grunts and groans of effort, the only sound to emanate from Federer's diaphragm was a brief, heavily aspirated Ugh! when he hit his increasingly on target serve. It was the brief, violent grunt of an Albanian weight lifter clean-and-jerking a Volkswagen. But coming from Federer, and in comparison to the other barnyard noises floating around, it was, well, gentlemanly.

I doubt it was much consolation for Gonzo that his 16-0 mark was being pulverized by a gentleman, and he showed admirable self-control as the games rolled by, culminating in a 6-2 set for Federer. But when Federer broke Gonzo in the first game of the next set, the frustrated Chilean smashed his racket, but good. I ask you, is there a greater signal of utter surrender in tennis than a flummoxed player smashing his racket? What would all you nostalgic baby boomers think if you went to see a Who reunion gig and Pete Townsend did that guitar-smashing thing three songs into the set?

I left the match after the third set; I'm not a big fan of spectating at executions. I wandered over to Chatrier Court, to catch some of the battle between Gael Force Monfils and David Ferrer. I thought going in that this would be an extremely tough test for Monfils, especially when you factored in his nationality, and the way the French habitually stink out the joint. I'm going to keep to powder of my observations dry on Gael Force, but he played a fine match to reach his semifinal berth against TMF.

It may seem odd, but in a way it's a great opportunity for Monfils - who's going to accuse him of going all French on us if he loses to TMF?  Hail, everybody (but one) is supposed to lose to Federer, and as Gonzo showed today, that's a liberating condition that enables you to swing from the heels. And who knows? Maybe a giant California condor will swoop down from the sky and pluck TMF off the court and drop him in the Seine. Stranger things have happened, TMF losing to Fillippo Volandri among them.

You know what they say: that's why the play the game, even though nobody (including "but one") plays the game like Federer.

You may now unbuckle your seat belts, turn on your electronic devices, and ask your flight attendant if you really have to pay for the smokehouse almonds.

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Posted by Tari 06/04/2008 at 02:23 PM

Wow. Gotta feel for Gonzo.

Great read, Pete. :)

Posted by 70's tennis fan 06/04/2008 at 02:29 PM

Yey! I can tell you're in the same time zone as me Pete! FIRST!!!

I watched the tennis thanks to the dear old BBC 'Interactive'. I think that my son sumed it up nicely when he said, after I told him that Gonzo had won the first set, "and then he lost it?".

Seriously it looked like great tennis.

Son and I are off to Queens on Tuesday! Can't wait!

Posted by vanfan 06/04/2008 at 02:30 PM

Smokehouse almonds? Wow,you must be flying first class Pete ;)

But seriously, like Tari said, Great read.

Posted by SwissMaestro 06/04/2008 at 02:33 PM

Federer played brilliant tennis in the last 3 sets. This is the kind of tennis (in my mind) that could pose more trouble for Nadal if they happen to meet again...

Posted by Master Ace 06/04/2008 at 02:34 PM

Nothing to add except Roger has too much firepower for Gael and it will be evident on Friday. 6-2,6-3,6-1 for Roger.

Posted by Lleytsie 06/04/2008 at 02:41 PM

Hi Pete ....

nooooooooo - dont rain on my parade, its a tradition

ROLAND Garros - second Sunday = rafa + rodge

hey 3rd time lucky may be

Posted by Whitney 06/04/2008 at 02:46 PM

Nice post Pete. :)

Alot of breaks in this match - Gonzo broke Roger, Roger broke Gonzo's spirit, Gonzo breaks a racket...

On to Friday! Both of my favorites are still in the tournament - Roger and Jelena. We'll see what happens.

Posted by Beckham 06/04/2008 at 02:46 PM

"Hail, everybody (but one) is supposed to lose to Federer, and as Gonzo showed today, that's a liberating condition that enables you to swing from the heels"

Thank you!! Thank you!!! Finally!!! I've been saying for years that most players don't fold when they play the Fed, a hail of a lot of them play out of their minds because they have no pressure!!!

Posted by CL 06/04/2008 at 02:53 PM

OK Pete - this WAS a great read. Especially like the 'airline attendant' line re the Nike outfits. You nailed it.

Posted by Andrew Miller 06/04/2008 at 02:59 PM

Mr. Bodo - this was awesome! It is a privilege to read tennisworld.

Dare you to introduce Rolf Federer! (on other tennisworld comments, someone introduced a character named Rolf Federer, who is the Federer that loses first sets!)

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/04/2008 at 03:27 PM


Those were some tasty pieces of literary excellence I just enjoyed.

Let's just call him Smokehouse Federer. Choice, tender morsels (of everybody) served daily, with that sweet, savory flavor.

Posted by nikdom 06/04/2008 at 03:29 PM

"It should be abundantly clear by now that on any surface, against any man (but one), Roger don't need no stinkin' strategy. He can let an opponent set the table, serve the meal, pour the wine, choose the desert - and guess who ends up getting stuck with the check?"


Posted by Syd 06/04/2008 at 03:30 PM

Pete; aw, just a fantastic column and I'm so glad you're out there watching matches.

*Roger don't need no stinkin' strategy. He can let an opponent set the table, serve the meal, pour the wine, choose the desert - and guess who ends up getting stuck with the check? *

Exactly. What a way to put it. Beautiful.

Posted by jj 06/04/2008 at 03:45 PM

My God, Man, get an editor! You're like the Bill Simmons of tennis, and I mean that in the "Bill after he got a big head and starting writing interminable 30,000 word columns" sense.

You switch metaphors every paragraph, string together run-on sentences endlessly, and feel the need to overwrite every thought with at least one needless colloquialism ("Gosh," this ... "You know, I'm only semi-kidding" that) ... Arrgh! More annoying than Sharapova when she starts squealing on every point in a tight third set.

Remind me to stick to Tennis' great scoreboards and factual reporting and stay as far away from the blogs as possible.

Posted by FoT 06/04/2008 at 03:51 PM

Great article Pete! Now I can't wait to get home so I can watch the match that I taped! (oh god, I hope it taped!)... Sounds like "TMF" actually played in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th set! I've been waiting for TMF to show up! I can't wait to see!

Posted by GSte 06/04/2008 at 03:52 PM

Pete Townsend is still alive? Isn't he like 4000 years old by now?

I kind of knew it was over for Gonzo when he didn't convert those break chances at 0-40 at the start of the 2nd set.

Posted by Maplesugar 06/04/2008 at 03:56 PM

jj....Not very nice of you. You are a guest at Mr. Bodo's blog, after all, as are we all.

As for me, I loved the piece. Thanks for the great photo, too, Pete!

Posted by Edengrave 06/04/2008 at 03:58 PM

Beautiful writing. you were on fire. say what you will but star power obviously inspire you.

Posted by crazyone 06/04/2008 at 04:05 PM

I've been travelling all day and finally logged on to see what happened in this match (also, how about that Safina?)...this result is just awesome. Even better than dominating a weak opponent from the outset. Being outplayed in the first set and then rising up to the challenge is CLASSIC TMF.

16 straight semifinals, baby! That's 4 years of slams!

Can't wait to watch this on ESPN360 tonight.

Posted by Edengrave 06/04/2008 at 04:07 PM

Just had to react to jj @ 3:45

I used to be an Editor.
If colorless facts are what you are looking for, you should know a blog is not the place to look for them. It's a real pleasure to read Pete's thoughts.

Posted by Ryan 06/04/2008 at 04:12 PM

Hey jj--this is a reminder to stay away from the blog.

Posted by Arcilla Tacones/ Andrea 06/04/2008 at 04:14 PM

ouch jj. this is a blog after all...not the Associated Press.

Loved the piece, Pete.

How bout that Monfils!!! Would be awesome if he made it to the finals. Personally I think he's more exciting than Tsonga.

Where's MrsSanta?!

Posted by PaulC 06/04/2008 at 04:15 PM

I love Bill Simmons. And Pete Townsend. Pete Townsend has gotten even better with age, like a good bottle of wine. I'm not sure he smashes many guitars these days. But he can play the hell out of them. Great voice too.

Fun read Pete. Eat any good food?

Posted by GVGirl (Spain in September!) 06/04/2008 at 04:17 PM

Flight attendent outfit? Fly Air TMF then to Number one, :)

I love Fed's outfit. Love the navy and white-Yankee colors! :)

Posted by Jaime Bert 06/04/2008 at 04:18 PM

Great post Pete. Just perfect!!!!

Posted by jj 06/04/2008 at 04:20 PM

Not looking just for colorless facts, nor do I dislike blogs. I just happen to like good writing. Reading this piece was, for me, like being forced to stare at a Bud Collins outfit. But, hey, different strokes I suppose.

Reminder taken, Ryan - tx ;-)

Posted by Liz 06/04/2008 at 04:20 PM

I love the navy blue flight attendant uniforms :-) Great piece, Pete - it seems you really enjoyed your spectating today.

Posted by jj 06/04/2008 at 04:25 PM

Not looking just for colorless facts, nor do I dislike blogs. I just happen to like good writing. Reading this piece was, for me, like being forced to stare at a Bud Collins outfit. But, hey, different strokes I suppose.

Reminder taken, Ryan - tx ;-)

Posted by Sydmom 06/04/2008 at 04:26 PM

Great post, Pete!! Loved it, loved it!!

Posted by FoT 06/04/2008 at 04:27 PM

P.S. I'm on board with liking the navy blue outfits (Rogers, and the other women that wore the same color). I'll give Nike a thumbs up for this!

Posted by Sher 06/04/2008 at 04:28 PM

Yes, it gets to be almost too much analysis sometimes too. I caught brief parts of both matches, but hopefully I'm coming back to a full tape and I plan to enjoy the hell out of it.

Posted by fedfan 06/04/2008 at 04:38 PM

This was fun to read

Posted by Christopher 06/04/2008 at 04:44 PM

So this is Fed's 16th straight GS semifinal. Does anyone know who the next few people down on that record list and how many they have?

Posted by crazyone 06/04/2008 at 04:44 PM

ESPN has the list, Christopher...

(see the inset)

Posted by SwissMaestro 06/04/2008 at 04:44 PM

Am I the only one who thinks the navy blue outfit that Nike gave Roger to wear for this FO is extremely elegant? (not tux-stripes at the USO elegant, but very elegant)

Posted by fedfan 06/04/2008 at 04:45 PM

I realize that this is going to be the wrong thread to make this comment; but it is apparent that Dinara Safina shares some sort of genetic propensity for high drama with her brother Marat. I couldn't believe she pulled out another come-from-behind victory.

Posted by Jeremy 06/04/2008 at 04:49 PM

16 straight semis is mind boggling...i mean, really.

there were greats before him and i'm sure there will be greats after him but no one has ever been this dominant for such a period of time in the open era.


Posted by GVGirl (Spain in September!) 06/04/2008 at 04:50 PM


I agree with you on the outfit! I love it!

Posted by Syd 06/04/2008 at 04:51 PM


Watch the Monfils/Ferru match also. Roger is going to have his hands full to put it mildly.

No talk of the final until he gets through Friday!

Posted by Christopher 06/04/2008 at 04:52 PM

Thanks, crazyone.

Pretty astounding accomplishment by Fed.

Posted by Syd 06/04/2008 at 04:52 PM

I'm with Pete on the outfit. gah.

Posted by Grant 06/04/2008 at 04:55 PM

"16 straight semis is mind boggling...i mean, really."

It is. Even Novak's 5 is really really impressive, but 16 is nuts.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 06/04/2008 at 04:55 PM


You are not alone. I also think Roger looks very sleek and elegant in his navy blue ensemble. And someone on the Tennis Warehouse blog thought it was the best tennis outfit ever to grace a court.


*I plan to enjoy the hell out of it.* lol You will, Sher. Three glorious sets of Fed in full flight.

Posted by FoT 06/04/2008 at 05:00 PM

Count me in on the navy blue. It looks very classic and I just love it! Nike can bury the baby-blue top Roger wore before this one, but the all Navy outfit is top! Thumbs up to Nike on this one!

Posted by Jenn 06/04/2008 at 05:01 PM

16 Grand Slams without one hiccup/letdown before the semis is phenomenal, particularly on the men's tour where so many players have the capability to get on a hot streak and upset the top guys. Terrific accomplishment.

And Monfils? wow. Impossible to see this coming. Completely out of nowhere based on what I have seen of his play and his results over the past year or two. The French fans must be so excited.

Posted by crazyone 06/04/2008 at 05:06 PM

Syd: I'll try to watch both, but I realized that I can't get ESPN360 in my new place! But never fear, I think I'll park somewhere on campus with my laptop where I know ESPN360 is available. Now I have a TV (no TennisChannel though), so I guess it won't be that bad after all.

Posted by codepoke 06/04/2008 at 05:06 PM


(Amusingly, in shorthand "jj" expands to, "judge.")

Thank you for your brevity, clarity and unmixed metaphor. Now quit with the buzzkill before we decide not to like you.

Posted by Master Ace 06/04/2008 at 05:09 PM

True on Gael. Before FO, he won only 5 ATP matches but he won a challenger in Marrakech 3 weeks which had to give him much needed confidence.

Posted by codepoke 06/04/2008 at 05:12 PM


I could only scoreboard-watch this match, and I so appreciate your artistic take on it. As I watched Gonzo reeling off games in the first set, I could not help but think, "Fed's playing, 'Quien es mas macho?' It's gonna hurt when he quits."

Reading your description of the bag and tag operation, though, is a thorough joy. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I remember Roger doing this to Blake at Indian Wells a couple years ago. James and Roger were trading crackling-hot forehands at each other, and Roger could not "Blake" with Blake. At 1-5 or 2-5 or some such, Federer suddenly took the pace off the ball and started moving it around. He won 7-5, 6-2 or something like that.

Was it Mrs Santa who started calling it, "Playing with his food?"

The man has SOOOO many gears!

Thanks again.

Posted by Sam 06/04/2008 at 05:13 PM

FoT: The navy blue is way better than the baby blue. More of an "I'm here to kick butt" look.

Posted by codepoke 06/04/2008 at 05:14 PM


The first set is anyone's guess, but as soon as the stress takes hold and he burns through that first burst of good vibes Gael'll start playing from the back wall, and Fed will slice him up.

Posted by Sam 06/04/2008 at 05:15 PM

codepoke: I think it was Matt Zemek who coined the phrase "playing with his food".

Posted by jon 06/04/2008 at 05:20 PM

I hate how everytime somebody ('jj') in this case makes any kind of criticism about any of the blogs, all you psychos jump on that person and basically pressure them to be quiet. jj had some good points, to be brutally honest... I know this is a blog and peter is free to write whatever he wants, but we are not 'guests at peter's blog' as some idiot put it- HE'S writing this for US. he panders to 'the tribe' (or whatever that is) a little too often and I think you all know it- btw good Bud Collins analogy jj.

Posted by waylandboy 06/04/2008 at 05:20 PM

Was TMF working for American Airlines today? It took him awhile to get going but was all smooth sailing after that!

Looking forward to your thoughts on Monfils. My wife and I saw him at the FO a couple years ago and were very impressed with his raw athleticism in wins over Murray and Blake. He seems like a basketball player with a tennis racquet and is an incredible defender. It seemed like his win today was celebrated by the crowd today like he just won the championship and it will be interesting to see how he plays Federer on the big stage. Nadal is one of the few players more athletic than Federer and we've seen that hurt Federer on clay so it will be interesting to see how that plays out on Friday. Probably straight sets by Fed on his ride to the Championship match, but that's what most thought in the semis in Melbourne too.......

Posted by Jenn 06/04/2008 at 05:21 PM

MA - a CHALLENGER. Exactly my point! Going in 3 weeks from Challenger level competition to a GS Semifinal, particularly with the home crowd pressure, is really amazing.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 06/04/2008 at 05:24 PM

I totally agree with Pete that killing a racquet is a sign of surrender. That was my exact thought when Gonzo did that. Why send that message to your opponent? I knew then that Fed had the match, as Gonzo no longer believed he could win.

Posted by SwissMaestro 06/04/2008 at 05:26 PM

Federer is the first one that does not get ahead of himself like we do. He knows that between the FO trophy and him are still his two toughest matches letf to play. He's got to so a couple of things:

1. Relax and let loose.
2. Strike first.

Everyone is talking about Nadal vs Djokovic and Roger has kind of been flying under the radar. If Federer keeps up his serving he could just be in his most threatening form ever to win this Slam. He has the ambition and the fire, after all, he is a Grand Slam collector.

Posted by Lleytsie 06/04/2008 at 05:29 PM

for some weird reason, Monfils annoys me --- i dont wanna be that way, but he just innately does

i dont know why

Posted by codepoke 06/04/2008 at 05:31 PM


Your defense of jj is perhaps admirable, but Pete has done something pretty wonderful here. He's made a place for tennis friends, more than tennis freaks. He treats us like friends, and we are overjoyed to return the favor. If Pete were lording his years of tennis experience over us from the Pantheon, jj's decidedly and intentionally mean style would sound fitting. But when Pete's treated us all with dignity and fraternity, jj's boorishness will receive no welcome at all.

If a man would have friends, he must first show himself friendly.

Posted by Lleytsie 06/04/2008 at 05:36 PM

am gonna have to defend Pete here too

its not all about what he writes, been instances where i have agreed and disagreed with him, but he treats us like mates

and its genuine ... and sometimes i say things which arent meant to be offensive, but comes out that way, its just culture, no one better than pete to understand cultural differences

sorry mate - pete does not lord over us, nor he panders, just honest opinions

if i felt that way, i wud not be here .... come back here

am stickin up for my mate here ....

who is jj ?

Posted by Andrew Miller 06/04/2008 at 05:37 PM

I dunno if killing racquets is surrender. Kind of feel that, like Stonewall Jackson's "they conquer who believe they can",

"they demolish racquets who have many extra racquets in their duffel bags and several en route from their wealthy sponsor"

I feel like demolishing my racquet sometimes but I have so few. If I crunch it, basically budget times are tough so I cant pull a Gonzo!

I saw Gimelstob bust a racquet during practice and Rios also - now that was gratuitous. Nice racquets too :(

Posted by vetmama 06/04/2008 at 05:45 PM


Pete's freewheeling blog style is exhilarating to many of us. His everything-AND-the-kitchen-sink style conveys the excitement and fun of tennis, which, last time I checked, is a GAME.

If you want something completely analytical and restrained, find another source. Here, we all love Pete's style because it encapsulates our own joy in this game.

(Also, anyone references Pete Townshend and Nigel Tufnel in the same week has my vote!)

Posted by Tim (2008 Year of Red Rogie!) 06/04/2008 at 05:47 PM

blog writing is more conversational, and thus often more enjoyable, than straight up reporting ala the Times or whatever, in case some werent aware of what a blog is meant to be ...

Pieces of Everybody is right, and there'll never be another Rogie, so enjoy him, peeps, the future of the mens' game is Gulbis and Djoker, all power, two handers and textbook strategy...

Posted by Jenn 06/04/2008 at 05:48 PM

When jj reads a book or a magazine article that he/she doesn't like, I wonder if he/she feels the need to send a note to the author saying "YOU SUCK." Seems like it would suffice to simply opt not to read that author anymore.

Posted by crazyone 06/04/2008 at 05:52 PM

Tim: While Gulbis is a two-hander, I find his style more enjoyable than Djokovic's (he's more aggressive, though he currently has more weaknesses than Djokovic). I think Gulbis has a good up-down transition, while Djokovic's great strength is his side-to-side transition.

Posted by Tim (2008 Year of Red Rogie!) 06/04/2008 at 05:57 PM

I dont mind Gulbis, but i think that type of player is where tennis is going, big hitting, traditional shots, the m ale version of big babe tennis ... even Nadal will seem unique in future years, as most others will be flatter, harder, etc.

how many men even pretend to serve and volley these days? it will just get more and more about big hitting from the baseline, as Roger tries to somewhat keep the old style alive...

Posted by Christin 06/04/2008 at 06:00 PM

I think we're seeing and will see this year and next the new and improved TMF model 2008, better even than '05-'06. Better serve, improved attacking net game and volleying, custom added drop shot component, Jose Higueros precision GMS, Perfect for high performance solution to RN's clay game at last.

And I love the navy blue with white trim colors. So much better than the aquas and pastels of previous RG entries. So perfect for holding at last the gleaming silver RG trophy on Sunday.

Posted by crazyone 06/04/2008 at 06:01 PM

Gulbis approached the net quite a bit during the match with Djokovic.

I disagree with what you're saying--men like Djokovic and Nadal, among others (Davydenko in Miami) have pretty much been forced to improve their net play in order to keep the top.

The reason why serve-and-volleyers are going extinct these days is that serve and volley isn't enough--to be great, you have to be adept from the baseline AND at the net.

I don't see this happening in the womens' game, at least not yet. Several of the top womens' players, from what I've seen, seem uncomfortable with overhead smashes and non-swinging volleys and other shots which are fairly standard on the mens' tour.

Posted by GVGirl (Spain in September!) 06/04/2008 at 06:03 PM

Not that I need to defend Pete, he can do that himself. Whether I agree or disagree with his opinions, I enjoy the way he "paint us a picture" with words to tell the story.

Posted by GVGirl (Spain in September!) 06/04/2008 at 06:04 PM

oops that's "paints"

Again I love Fed's outfit!!

Posted by Alexis 06/04/2008 at 06:08 PM

Nice article, Pete. And I love this outfit. Love the navy blue color and the white trim makes it look simple and classy. Plus these new RF-logo shirts and shorts are nicely fitted - none of that 'baggy' look.

I'm not a fan of Sharapova, but I liked her Nike ensemble too.

Posted by malimeda 06/04/2008 at 06:10 PM

Not so much a "flight attendant uniform", more like a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit - the prim white collar. Those Nike guys are deep.

And yes, an overly rich mixture of metaphors in the article. But people tend to look at Bud Collins outfits. Most informative comments as well.

Posted by jungleboy 06/04/2008 at 06:22 PM

Wow, that was a great article Pete. Really enjoyable and funny!

Posted by fmplayer 06/04/2008 at 06:44 PM


Last but not least, if you don't like Pete's posts, well ... just don't read it. You can comment facts, criticize opinions, but writing style is just an image of personality.

Nice post Pete

Posted by skip1515 06/04/2008 at 06:51 PM

Clever title. Nice reference to a small sf film classic. And a great, great read. More like a "you are there" than "First this, then this, and then this happened...."

Which was the point this time out, no? Thanks.

To jj and jon: ever try writing 1000+ words and posting them for semi-commercial consumption within hours of the events you're commenting on, as opposed to reporting? I have. It's tough, and lends itself to a style that isn't as formal as writing for print media, or even a weekly journal. If this style doesn't please you, you're entitled to your opinion, but until you get the E.B. White honorary chair for pithy web writing no one's waiting for your literary criticisms. Read and enjoy, or not, and get out of the way.

And Who's nostalgic?

Posted by allie 06/04/2008 at 07:00 PM

i thought fed's outfit was a take-off/homage to Gene kelley's An American in paris outfit...? Would make sense, in the sense that Fed dances around the tennis court and is so graceful... JMO

Posted by montuckian 06/04/2008 at 07:05 PM

A Gonzo review of a Gonzo match. Co-starring Gonzo. Hunter S. Thompson would be proud. As a pure tennis fan I simply must add my review of the new Nike ensemble: it sucks. Doesn't matter what he wears though, TMF is one classy guy. Hopefully the final will be Nadal-TMF and I predict #4 for the King of Clay.

Posted by Ruth 06/04/2008 at 07:05 PM

On my TV sets, from Day 1, Fed's shirt looked dark (or navy blue) and the shorts dark green. I thought that was an odd combination. Do I need new TV sets or new glasses or what?

Posted by Sam 06/04/2008 at 07:08 PM

Ruth: I recommend a nice big HDTV, if you don't already have one. ;-)

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

wow, bodo, you're in love, again.

maybe he sometimes doesn't need no stinkin' strategy (except that constantly exploiting fernando's super-backhand in last three sets) but some zantac in the pocket for sunday would be good for pain from traditional suddenly peptic ulcer attack he suffer in that situation...
yes, too shame that fedman doesn't like (well, actually he can't stand at all) majorcan cuisine...
but some people even hope that nadal would get some stomach troubles from serbian hot bean soup on friday dinner... who knows, than maybe fedman can show that appetite again.

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

Ruth, I think the shirt and shorts are both the same shade of dark navy blue. It's such a dark shade that various commentators have referred to the outfit as black.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 06/04/2008 at 07:26 PM


Are you sure you don't sell HDTVs for a living? Maybe all that engineering talk is just a ruse. :)

Posted by Sam 06/04/2008 at 07:28 PM

LOL tangi!

Posted by injustice 06/04/2008 at 07:31 PM

bodo, breaking a racquet is a sign of surrender?
what if one try to broke it on his head (and broke, hmm, something) and even win after that? was that a racket who waved the white flag?

oh, i only hope that mono will not relapse again on that bloody sunday afternoon...

Posted by beth 06/04/2008 at 07:35 PM

good question , tangi!
Sam :P
anyway - I really enjoyed reading this Pete
and I agree - those navy outfits do look like flight attendants
The green and tan ones look like camouflage - so I am not sure I really love either one

Posted by Andrew 06/04/2008 at 07:55 PM

jj: um, OK. Please stick to Tennis' great scoreboards and factual reporting and stay as far away from the blogs as possible. Does that help?

Haven't seen the match yet. Was doing my own version of the Schrodinger's cat experiment earlier this morning.

Pete writes "Gosh it was nice watching two terrific players hitting the ball without inhibition, picture-perfect placements pouring off each of their rackets, leaving you free from having to figure out just who was trying to do what, and with what degree of success, like some freakin' tennis expert or something."

Yes. That is nice to think of - picture-perfect placements from two men playing freely. To me, tennis at its highest level involves two players who can do this. The rest of it - the press conferences, the families - be damned.

Pete also writes "He took command of the pace, and stepped up to challenge Gonzo to beat him at his game, rather than his own." Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but this is something Federer has never been able to do completely with Nadal for an entire match, while Nadal has been able to force Federer to play long stretches of matches on his, Nadal's terms. Should the two meet again on Sunday, the whole story is in that sentence. And Nadal, obviously, is much harder to force out of his comfort zone.

Still got to get there first, of course.

Posted by JR 06/04/2008 at 07:55 PM

Pete's piece fit the match beautifully; they were both rollicking good fun.

Posted by robnehmeth 06/04/2008 at 08:01 PM

Novak is going to do his best to keep Nadal from the final... whether it's enough? And Monfils will need to change the game he played against Ferrer or Fed will eat him alive.

They still gotta get there, but it looks like both may make it.

Posted by FoT 06/04/2008 at 08:04 PM

One more comment on the outfit. I was reduced to listenng to the French Open Radio while at work and they kept referring to his outfit as "Black". It's a pretty navy blue.

Posted by mad about fed 06/04/2008 at 08:17 PM

great read pete. merci beaucoup

i'm sorry JJ but i enjoyed it a lot and not just because it was about roger, niether. who wants to just read boring facts. pete is not Sargeant Friday after all ("just the facts, ma 'am"). so you sorta hafta come here expecting, well, humor.

there is a gianormus fan base here, i wonder why that is? hmmm, curious, huh?

swiss maestro--i absolutely ADORE roger in anything dark (navy, black)i don't care. but then he looks good in anything as far as i am concerned.

Posted by adicecream 06/04/2008 at 08:23 PM

My vote: the navy blue is classic and classy. I love it and not just on TMF.

Posted by aceman 06/04/2008 at 08:32 PM

I love watching Federer play such beautiful tennis. However, against Nadal, he's got to serve well to get some cheap points. It's harder for him on clay. Also, if you notice, he chips his backhand to start some points. Against every other player, this doesn't hurt him. Against Nadal, he attacks these soft shots with extreme spin and pace and immediately puts Roger on the defensive. Roger can sort of feel his way into points to start rallies. On clay, against Nadal, he cannot get away with this strategy.Nadal rarely hits these soft shots. His shots on clay have pace, spin, extreme placement, and lethal purpose. That is why Roger looks uneasy on clay against him. He has to attack him with effective serving, sharp angles, and take the net. If he makes to the Final against Nadal, I don't think he will feel tight. This time, he has to play with abandon and attack. He can't wait for Nadal to make errors. Nadal usually doesn't. He proved in Hamburg and Monte Carlo, his smart attacking game can be effective.

Posted by jb 06/04/2008 at 08:32 PM

OK - Pete - I think I have to echo someone (i forget who...) who declared they just flove when you travel - so much good reading for us!

Though I expect that Lisa and Cowboy Luke mite feel differently about it... :)

the description was of the match was great - i'm watching the repeat now.

Great win for young Gael also not sure how much of that I'll get to see...

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/04/2008 at 08:42 PM

Just for the public record, I can't take credit for the "play with your food" reference.

Don't remember who coined that here.

Could have been Juan Jose, but I'm not sure. Beckham, maybe...

Posted by mici 06/04/2008 at 08:45 PM

I would have rather faerer won his match, he gives more rythem the molfis.

I read some really stangs coments about molfis in the other post,

some said molfis doesn't have fiar power, what?

he doesn't know how to use is talent (like other 2 stupid players: murray, bgdhadia) he plays defansive teenis insted of attacking tennis but he sure does have fiar power.

when he decided to hit the fh, or go with the bh, omg.

he has 1 of the best kick serves on the ture, and that serve trubles fed.

and he moves great, and unlike Mc, he will have a lot of space to move and to run, so it will be hard to put the ball away as he will be runnung all over, and you know how fed gets when a ball that should be a winner comes back.

the drop shot will be very importent in this match, fed will have to be in the net.

but their last match when molfisd saw fed is going to the net and it is hurting him, he started going himself to the net and with his serve is worked and he played batter.

o I wish that faerer would have 1 his match.
the worst player fed could have gotten in this point.

Posted by † Hallelujah 06/04/2008 at 08:53 PM

fun read

Posted by jb 06/04/2008 at 08:58 PM

play with your food is old old old, pre beckham i believe.

sigh, trying to watch this match - and apparently ttc didn' manage to show any of Fed actually breaking Gonzo.

Posted by crazyone 06/04/2008 at 08:59 PM

mici, so what do you think is going to happen on Friday?

Posted by mici 06/04/2008 at 09:20 PM

I not going to talk about who would or score, but

If molfis or his coach learned anything from their last match in Mc,

the match should look like a grass court match.

serve, volly, drop shots is going to be very importent.

it very tricky match, if it sunny, it will give molfis serve and shot a lot more power and he has alredy very strong serve.

and that kick serve is going to truble fed.

if it rainey day, fed shots arn't as strong and molfis is very fast so shot that should be winner could comeback and fed doesn't like that.

he probly will be in the net more in this match.

Posted by CL 06/04/2008 at 09:30 PM

oh dear, mici...poor Fed... should he even bother to show up, or just concede to Gael now?

My goodness... I fully agree that young Gael is a dangerous player and for sure one of those players who can get on a run and trouble anyone...but I trust it is not as bad as all that for Fed. There must be a few things HE can do that will trouble Gael? Or perhaps that is what you meant by the "serve volley, drops shots...going to be very important"? Fed's S&V and drop shots?

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