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Bercy Diary: Dolls and Bunnies 11/11/2010 - 10:55 AM


by Gauloises, TW Contributing Writer

8.15 a.m. - While breakfasting on ham and madeleines, I contemplate the order of play. It’s a big day; the top seeds are playing their first matches, which means that many players we’ve watched and cheered for over the past few days will be running smack into the elite of the game. It’s going to be a day of tough choices about what to watch; there’s no time to waste.

10.35 a.m. - Waste valuable time being propositioned by the guy with one eye who hands out the free newspapers outside Bercy metro station.

11.03 a.m. - Through security (“for you, no problem!”) and wait outside the arena for a break in play. Roddick is serving for the set at 5-1 and it’s clear that as hungry as Nieminen appeared against Malisse, Roddick on a fast court is simply a class above. I pick up a copy of the OOP and realize Marin Cilic is playing Sergiy Stakhovsky on Court 1. Knowing Marin as I do, it’s clear his need will be greater.

11.11 a.m. - Settle into a mainly deserted Court 1. With the blue and green walls and various susurrations of machinery, it’s like being underwater. Cilic is facing break points right, left and centre in the second set. I watch and try to understand how, with all that game and his physical gifts, he isn’t a permanent fixture in the Top 10. The charitable interpretation is that he still has a way to go.

11.51 a.m. - The first gut-wrenching choice of a packed day’s play confronts me; to leave Cilic now seems tantamount to abandonment, but Roddick has just served out the match and Djokovic will be next on centre. The thought of Djokovic’s traditional Bercy entrance in a Halloween mask makes up my mind for me.

11.53 a.m. - The James Bond music and light show somehow doesn’t seem so inappropriate when the one being introduced is Djokovic.

11.55 a.m. - He’s not wearing a Halloween mask! I abandoned Cilic for this?!

12.10 p.m. - Monaco is hitting the ball exceptionally cleanly, absorbing and redirecting pace effortlessly. Djokovic, on the other hand, doesn’t look fully awake and his game as yet has no bite. It’s a predictable early break for Monaco, and we eat our first ficelles and settle in for a long match.

But part of being a champion is having the wherewithal to change the flow of play when the match isn’t going your way. Djokovic starts by attacking the net, forcing an edge of aggression into his play. Monaco is left stranded and looking ordinary, confronting the limitations of his game. The elderly French couple behind us are swiftly sighing ooh la la . . . after each point.

Match point comes and just like that, Monaco is leaving the court disregarded while Djokovic earns a huge roar of applause for speaking to the crowd in French. When he hits the ball into the stands, a white-haired gentlemen plucks it from the air in a neat disply of left-handed fielding, then hands it proudly to his teenage daughter. At least we hope she’s his daughter.

Andy 1.55 p.m. - Murray and Nalbandian are underway. We have a lovely view of Murray’s unbelievable defense, and a perfect one of Nalbandian’s sharp, lethal mid-court volleys. I abandon journalistic impartiality, resign myself to being publicly British, and give it some . . . C’mon Andy!

He doesn’t. He’s punching his strings, looking distinctly unhappy with life. I should be despairing, but I’m finding it impossible not to rejoice in Nalbandian’s stunning play, forehands into the corners as flat and precise as bullets, lobs on the run that seem laser-targeted. The Argentine is utterly in control.

The worst part about live tennis is how a favourite’s defeat can impact your day. My friend is rapidly descending into the blackest of moods while I try to persuade her there’s still hope. Murray follows in Djokovic’s footsteps by finding another gear to his game. He starts the second set with consecutive serve and volleys and makes the most of his own excellent net skills. At least he’s trying to do something different, I tell my friend. She grunts something unintelligible. There’s a reason that he’s good, I say to her (but mostly to myself). There’s a reason that he’s good.

3.00 p.m. - And there it is. Nalbandian’s level drops and Murray steals the second set out from under him. Having demonstrated that he can survive a period of less-than-spectacular play and still find himself well in the match, the momentum is always in his favour in the third set, and even a painful wrist can’t prevent him from reaching the next round. By the end, Nalbandian looks impotent and furious.

4.01 p.m. - I have finally found the secret smoking area by the river. My joy is tempered by the news that while I have been watching the tennis, Amelie Mauresmo has been in the press centre. Not all choices work out for the best.

4.13 p.m. - Rather than listen to the drums for Llodra, I decide to prove my theory that doubles on Court 2 is the hot ticket, opting for Ljubicic and Cilic against the Bryan brothers. Maybe I’m seeing them on an off day, but I’m not that impressed by the Bryans. All the while, the Croatians were more charimsatic. They alternate hitting eye-catching winners with ugly misses, and laugh with each other and their coaches.

The Bryans are poker-faced, communicating in monosyllables - “yeah?” “Right.” “Dude.” “Yeah.” But in the crucial moments, they summon their best play with the assurance that comes with the mastery of their craft.

The Croatians push them hard, but lose by the narrowest of margins in two tiebreak sets. As we leave the court, a Bryan says to me, “Thanks for watching,” with such sincerity that I take back at least half the negative things I’ve ever said about them.

5.58 p.m. The magic of live tennis. A match that you thought was going to be merely a pleasant way of passing the time becomes the most absorbing thing you’ve seen all day. David Ferrer and Fabio Fognini on a packed Court 1 are locked in a battle that’s compelling from the start, not least because of the similarities in their style of play.

Between points, Ferrer paces the baseline with grim determination, round-shouldered and never still; Fognini has a cocky strut, he's a Ken doll to Ferrer’s Energizer bunny. When a rally starts, however, they trade hammer blows from the baseline, running what seems like miles in a single point. They trade breaks, then split sets; Ferrer bellows in frustration like a wounded bull, while Fognini lets loose streams of Italian invective, helpfully translated and thus rendered unrepeatable by our acquaintance from Milan.

7.02 p.m. - Into a third set, and the spectators are leaving in droves to take their seats for Federer-Gasquet, but we and a few others are staying at our posts like the band on the Titanic.

Ferrer is still unable to read the Fognini serve or eliminate the unforced errors from his game, but he seems to play better—or at any rate run faster—the longer the match goes on. He throws himself bodily into his forehands so that his feet rise high above the surface. This is a player who makes his living punching above his weight, and attempting to out-Ferrer Ferrer can only take Fognini so far.

When match point comes and goes, it’s the Spaniard waving and basking in the fervent applause. The TV coverage might have cut away to more glamorous climes, and he doesn’t get the light show, but a different James Bond theme comes to mind—Nobody Does It Better. Ferrer may not be the best player in the world, but he’s proved once again that he’s the best at what he does.

8.13 p.m. - Still buzzing, we secure tickets for tomorrow—we haven’t had nearly enough of this—and take our seats on centre court. Federer already leads Gasquet by a set and a break, and despite the packed arena and hypnotic drum beat between points, there’s nothing here that can match the intensity of what we’ve just witnessed.

9.57 p.m. - Soderling has taken the first set without doing very much, and it’s obvious that the frisson has left the building for the day. We decide to do the same.

10.18 p.m. - Disembarking the metro at Chatelet, we’re accosted by an unsavory gentleman who persists in trying to set up a rendez-vous. So much for James Bond.

11.05 p.m. - Back to our tiny, rented apartment. And now, to write …

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Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 07:28 PM

Well I have to go

Later everyone!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/11/2010 at 07:33 PM

Smashing post again by Gaulie today, so funny !

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/11/2010 at 07:42 PM

Hi, Carol. I was disappointed by David's loss today too.

Posted by Carol 11/11/2010 at 07:49 PM

Hi Lynne, me too but Melzer always gives hard time to the opponents.
Anyway I'm glad for Ferru because he will play in London, he deserve it.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/11/2010 at 07:52 PM

Carol : Melzer is going great guns at the moment and I agree re Ferru playing in London. Anyway, he is my #2 player !

Posted by Eva 11/11/2010 at 08:06 PM

I wasn't surprised by Llodras' win, specially on such a fast court as this (Nole dixit: this is the fastest court I've ever played). And I'm kind of relieved that Nole is not reaching the final in Paris this year (he has reached semis or finals in all the past tournaments since USO) because he should focus on London and DC. Last year he had an amazing run winning in China, semis in Shangai, winning in Basel and Paris... and then crashing at the WTF. With the rest he will get now I expect him to be on fire in London.
However, every time he loses I get in the funkest of moods and it affects my day and week badly. It's so hard to be a fan sometimes...

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/11/2010 at 08:12 PM

Eva : I think we've all experienced that feeling at some time or another. But my self-defence makes me determined to shorten that mood these days so that the "funks" don't last so now.

Posted by Carol 11/11/2010 at 08:13 PM

Lynne, if still you're here I was watching Spanish news and the north of Spain is going for a hard time with a lot of rain, strong winds and snow, look this vid, it's impressive

Posted by Carol 11/11/2010 at 08:21 PM

Yeah Lynne, we know how are those days but anyway it doesn't last too long!!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/11/2010 at 08:22 PM

Carol : It looks horrendous, aren't you glad that your not still there today?

Posted by Carol 11/11/2010 at 08:24 PM

Well, time to watch basketball, vamos Wade!!!!

Posted by Carol 11/11/2010 at 08:33 PM

Lynne, I do and at least I know that my city (Bilbao) is ok because although it's close to the coast it's not so close like San Sebastian which is the city that has had more problems. They say that tomorrow will be more calm, I hope so!

Posted by Jamaica Karen 11/11/2010 at 08:58 PM

Good evening All. Tried to post this a moment ago and everything just went haywire

Well today I got one of the things crossed off my bucket list. I got to meet Venus and have her sign my copy of "Come to Win". Venus is such a wonderful, engaging, beautiful and warm person. She engaged everyone at the book signing this evening and was such a warm person.

She called me "family". I was nervous about meeting her but she put me right at ease. She wore a beautiful green halter dress and she looked like the Queen she is. I told her that the Tour is so much the poorer when she and Serena are not playing and I wished her good fortune in 2011 and that I hoped they both can stay healthy for the new year.

She laughs just as loud as I do and she was so wonderful. I really treasured my 2 little minutes with her and I have the photos to prove it. Yaay.

Posted by Texastennis 11/11/2010 at 09:16 PM

What a treat for you, JK!

Posted by Colette 11/11/2010 at 09:42 PM

Oh, J/C Karen, how exciting for you! I hope she was able to "sense" what a truly special fan you are.

Posted by Cayman Karen 11/11/2010 at 09:49 PM

Thanks guys. I think she did see what a big fan I am of hers. I told her that in the blogosphere she is known as Queen Vee because of the way she carries herself. She looked so regal and charming and I was very happy to hear her laugh just as loudly as I do.

It is so great when you can cross things off your bucket list LOL

Posted by just horsen 11/11/2010 at 10:03 PM

"Fognini has a cocky strut, he's a Ken doll to Ferrer’s Energizer bunny."

lol! I watched that match and spent half my time trying to sum up the difference between the two. I think you just hit the nail on the head!

have greatly enjoyed reading your writing the last few days, Gauloises!

Posted by Aube,To that couple in India,your billion dollar house is ugly! 11/11/2010 at 10:04 PM

Jamaica Karen I'm going to bow to you every time now for meeting my queen Vee..
And I'm warning everyone the day I meet either SEREBABY or QUEEN VEE,I will start walking with my head!!!
Very happy for you,to hear her talk has to be exquisite...

Posted by Master Ace 11/11/2010 at 10:14 PM

Friday Order of Play for Bercy:

8 AM - Roddick vs Soderling followed by Davydenko vs Llodra
1:30 PM - Federer vs Melzer
2:30 PM - Murray vs Monfils

Posted by Master Ace 11/11/2010 at 10:15 PM

Cayman Karen,
Where are the pictures of you and Venus?

Posted by ladyjulia 11/11/2010 at 10:20 PM


I saw that Nole lost today...but Muzz is still alive i guess. I missed all the matches, but i read that Fed is playing well.

I don't know who they are playing next, but i am hoping they both make it SFs. Then I can watch over the weekend. Still put my money on Muzz against Fed.

Let's see what happens.

Posted by vetmama 11/11/2010 at 10:28 PM

Karen, what?
You got to talk to Venus!?!

Congratulations, girl! You must have been on cloud nine.:)

Posted by rafadoc...Waka Waka...Its Stanzi time! 11/11/2010 at 10:32 PM

Just popping in to say "Yeah Gauloises!". Another fabulous report. I loved this: "Fognini has a cocky strut, he's a Ken doll to Ferrer’s Energizer bunny."

A great example of your observations skills and ability to put what you see into words.

Well done, kiddo.

Posted by vetmama 11/11/2010 at 10:34 PM


Muzz will have a tough time with Roger on this fast surface, unless Roger has a horrendous day.

Usually, I am pretty dubious when Fed plays Murray, but I think Murray will have to run faster than usual and play far more aggressively than he's comfortable with to beat Fed at this venue.
That's the matchup I really want to see, if only to compare their games on this kind of surface.

And why is it that whenever I type the word "surface", I mentally think "soofrace"?

I've been at TW too long.:)

Posted by jodiecate 11/11/2010 at 10:46 PM

Congratulations Gauloises another fantastic report - i'm really enjoying your commentary!!

Do also feel i need to respond to Mayes@12:31 and GB@12.33 - you two crack me up completely, you were joking right???
Why would Nadal skip the opportunity for match time on a fast hard indoor surface when that is what he'll be playing on in London? It's his worst surface, and he knows it, plus he's one who DOES need adjustment time on a new surface (see us open lead up). It's true he can hardly get worse results there than last year, but have heard that he wants to do MUCH better this year, maybe even win the thing...

And that he always runs from a challenge??? You mean the "clay-court specialist" who has now won Wimbledon twice and the USO at his first "finals" opportunity?? The guy who's had to transform his whole style of play from endurance marathon to shorter sharper points to ease the knee strain??? Get outta here!! Pulling out of Paris will disadvantage Rafa in London BIG time. I honestly can't see him pulling off the win there under these circumstances. Does that mean he won't play? Of course not, if he's fit he'll be there with bells!

Posted by CL 11/11/2010 at 10:52 PM

J/K - so great that you got a meet and greet with Miz Vee!!

Posted by CL 11/11/2010 at 10:55 PM

In all this GLOAT discussion, has anyone posted this?

Reporter gets a gold star too. Hope a certain someone isn't around the hear that another certain someone find Swedish "funny." Perhaps that is a 'mistranslation' of what was actually said. ;-))

Posted by Joe 11/11/2010 at 11:19 PM

Does someone have seen this vid? it happened in Basel the same day of Roger/Nole final. They moved the soccer game at the lunch time to avoid both events at the same time, but the soccer crowd wasn't very happy as you can see.......

Posted by GB 11/11/2010 at 11:22 PM

jodiecate: I'm a huge RafaKAD and was responding sarcastically to the idea he was ducking out of Paris because he was worried about the speed.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/11/2010 at 11:40 PM

GB, what other reason then? surely youre not buying the shoulder excuse?

Posted by GB 11/11/2010 at 11:45 PM

Ah, Tim, I forgot I needed you to read between the lines for me with your infallible ability to second guess Rafa. I shouldn't frazzle about the shoulder then, cause it's not like you've ever raged about Rafa not being injured and not going to miss a tourney, only for him to turn around and, um, have to miss a tourney, right?

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/12/2010 at 12:01 AM

pretty much yeah GB ... if you believe every injury that guys come up with to get out of an event, and frankly protect their confidence, then be my guest, but one thing rafa is great at is protecting his ego and winning mentality, and deflecting pressure from himself as best he can ... believe what you will, this is not an event Rafa was sorry to miss...

Posted by Joe 11/12/2010 at 12:15 AM

Then let's go to think that last year Roger did the same excuse (his back) and he didn't play in Bankok, Tokio and Shangai.......

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/12/2010 at 12:21 AM

when are rafa's knees gonna get left alone by the way? reshaping his whole game to save his knees? why dont u talk to tsonga or del po or any # of pros about injuries nads knees have been fine for months and years now, he's barely missed an event due to them, theyre just always in the 'news' because ... because why?

nads had to change his mooonball game on fast courts because he got his butt kicked otherwise, and without the best draw in the history of the US Open, he wouldnt have won this year, either ... i guess its all persecptive and what you choose to 'see' ...

nadal is an expert at ego protection, his losses are 'accidents' in his mind, as he so often says, and he finds little injuries to blame when he gets on a losing streak... his game is very vulnerable on any surface other than clay and he plays his cards very carefully as a result, credit to him ...

the ego of a pro athlete is everything and he protects it with all his might...

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/12/2010 at 12:23 AM

i think Fed made it clear he was taking a rest, and didnt blame his back for that break, he was resting and said as much... too bad Nadal cant do the same ... he always needs an excuse ahead of time, its just part of his psyche...

again, anyone who's played tennis competitively knows this stuff exists and i see it very clearly as part of Nadal's psyche... its not unusual ...

Posted by Joe 11/12/2010 at 12:28 AM

Tim, right now Rafa's knees are OK, just he's taking care with his body and learning from "others" how do it........................

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/12/2010 at 12:29 AM

Gauly you are a roll with the reporting. Good to see that you are covering all courts and seeing a wide range of tennis.

Love the description of Ferrer and Fognini.

So happy that Melzer and Rockin' Robin won and Llodra winning over Nole, I was not expecting that at all.

Posted by Joe 11/12/2010 at 12:31 AM

hahahahahaha Tim.........suffer!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/12/2010 at 12:33 AM

Karen just read your post on meeting Venus, so happy for you that you got to meet her and all.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/12/2010 at 12:36 AM

hows the weather up in fantasy land, joe?

LOL nadal was laughing in his presser for a reason, there was nothing wrong with him, he even said as much... so what, but lets be real about it, he has nothing left to prove and wants to save himself some losses and go all out in London, and if he loses every match, the press will just give him a pass anyway...

Federer is held to a different standard for a reason...he's the GOAT and everyone knows it

Posted by Jay 11/12/2010 at 12:41 AM

Congrats, Karen. How was she walking? :))

I had the same experience this summer in DC, however, we did not get to chat much since the line was so long for autographs.

I did get a word in with her sister Isha, though. Isha and I were in law school together, but I never officially met her (although I tried). I remembered seeing her in the parking lot. Had I realized that her name is Price rather than Williams, I might have been able to just happen to be in the same class...

Posted by Joe 11/12/2010 at 12:56 AM

yeah, yeah Tim, watch the vid at 11:19 pm and as you can see you're more Fedex fan than the people from his native town, haaaaaaaaaaaaaa


Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/12/2010 at 12:57 AM

uh that made no sense joe, get some rest ok :)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/12/2010 at 01:15 AM

Nuggets have outscored the Fakers 29-12 in the fourth quarter to take a Nine-Point lead.

Bryant is 10 for 29 from the field.

The Heat has already gone down at home, with L.James and Wade going a combined 0 for 10 from 3-pt. land.

Sporting world is going smoothly.

Then I read:

"Federer is held to a different standard for a reason...he's the GOAT and everyone knows it."

Everyone knows what?

Get back to me when Federer wins a Calendar Slam, like Laver did twice.

Uh, oh. Nuggets are giving the game away.

Posted by NP 11/12/2010 at 01:29 AM

The Kobies were just too generous for the veterans' sake. No biggie.

Posted by zenggi 11/12/2010 at 02:00 AM

Good morning,

Thanks, CL, for the GLOAT video. It doesn't compute with the other one Joe posted (thanks, again) and my view of the more than polite and well behaved Swiss. On the other hand and as everybody knows football brings out the worst of mankind.
I can only imagine what would happen in Spain if the Final of the Madrid Masters would take preference over a Real Madrid-Barcelona football match. The crowd wouldn't be throwing tennis balls, they would throw the two tennis finalists, Tiriac and his minions, the umpire and the ball kids and even the Major and the whole bunch of people who during the week are absent in the VIP-boxes.

Posted by NP 11/12/2010 at 02:50 AM

"1. Kind of confirms that slower court speeds all around (on HC and Wimbly) have a lot to do with the decline of S/V. Given a fast court like Bercy, a good Serve-and-Volleyer like Llodra matches up quite well with the best of the baseliners. Of course, Llodra played out of his mind through the match, but my point is if more courts were like this one, you'd have S/Vs winning a whole lot more...and if a really great one came along (with groundstrokes, mental strength & consistency), he's be a multi-Slammer.

"I guess NP's being saying this all along, but this match just convinced me, where pure arguments didn't. Don't agree that Nole had an off-day - he was doing all right for a set and a half - just that Llodra didn't give him any rhyth."

Actually, freddy, I don't think surface has much to do with the current dea(r)th of S&V (nor does poly, for that matter). I've long maintained that whatever changes have been made to the surfaces over the last few years aren't nearly as huge as the clueless pundits would have you believe. Grass is still grass, and clay still clay.

I know I'm preaching to the heathens here, and besides I've written extensively on this very topic before and have no desire to rehash everything, but if you care to know, the real culprit here is the structural changes in tennis instruction over the last decade or so. Talk to any coach or instructor in the know, and you'll see that the reason why we hardly see S&V anymore is not because it's no longer a viable strategy, but because it hasn't been taught widely to juniors for some time. In today's highly commercialized climate it's simply considered a bad investment by those who fail to see that it may prove to be a bigger cash cow in the long run.

And it also takes a considerably longer time to learn than baselining, which sure doesn't help its marketability. S&V is not something that a player--even a top 10er--can master in a matter of months. And just as importantly, it requires lots of actual matches for the S&Ver to attain his A game, including that split-second timing required for efficient net coverage. Just ask Rafter. (Not surprisingly the S&Ver faces these same challenges when he comes back after an extended leave, which should explain in part why unlucky players like Ancic have trouble maintaining consistency at the top levels.) Long story short, it takes more than regular practice and the right coach to master and practice S&V.

Oh, and next time you hear someone say, "If S&V were viable today, everyone would be doing it"--which is a fallacy of affirming the consequent, BTW--you can safely bet your house that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Posted by brewer 11/12/2010 at 02:54 AM

"that people who therefore conclude that Roger is linguistically more skillful than other players are pretty ignorant. (I'm not saying he doesn't have language skills, just that he doesn't have more language skills than players in general.)"

I know that we have moved on from the GLOAT discussion, but I have to diagree on this Tuulia. I don't think people regard Fed linguistically gifted because he gives pressers in three or four languages, but because of the very high level he speaks those languages. Yes, there are a lot of tennis players who knows more than one language but most of them are not speaking those langugages too goood, or at least not that good as Fed speaks those three. Of course, he was lucky with his background, and with the country he lives/lived, but it was still impressive as hell when he switched from English to French from one sentence to another with frightening ease at the trophy presentation in the RG final in 2009.

(As to German and Swiss-German: actually they are quite different languages, vocabulary notwithstanding, Swiss German even has different senctence structures. Swiss German is closer to Dutch than it is to German, though of course all three are close to each other.)

"It doesn't compute with the other one Joe posted (thanks, again) and my view of the more than polite and well behaved Swiss."

They are not Swiss. They are hardcore football fanatics ;) :) Otherwise, according to my experience in Basel, the Swiss adore Fed. I'm sure, zenggi can affirm that.

Posted by zenggi 11/12/2010 at 02:58 AM

Do you mean then that "if S&V would be taught today, everyone would be doing it"?

I agree in the lack of instructors who teach S&V and also OH-BH. I learnt to play tennis that way ages ago. When my children started with tennis lessons (around 15 years ago) they were taught from the beginning a DH-BH, a hard first serve and how to rally from ad to deuce but not to the net and backwards. A DS wasn't in the agenda until they were around 16 years old and playing regional competitions.

Posted by NP 11/12/2010 at 03:06 AM

zenggi, no. I paraphrased, of course, but it usually reads something like, "If S&V were still effective today...." And it's really wrong on so many levels, the logical fallacy being the most obvious.

Posted by zenggi 11/12/2010 at 03:12 AM

I agree totally about the Swiss as I wrote above. I've seen how well loved and respected Roger is everywhere in Switzerland and specially in Basel. He is adored there but instead of showing it by molesting him and taking paparazzi pictures, they give him the most precious of gifts: the right to his privacy. They let him and his family be.

About the footbal crowd it's the same everywhere in Europe. Of course it's politically incorrect to criticize the behaviour and to point the finger at the majority of people who attend those matches and their social and cultural status. :)

Posted by zenggi 11/12/2010 at 03:20 AM

You've lost me there. I think that if players were taught how to S&V effectively today, they would use it. If Llodra or Stepanek do it all the time and win matches, the other players could S&V at least 20-25% of the time. It would bring a new dimension to their game and as a radomly used tactic it could work surprising their opponents. I don't understand why it's seen as a sure way of giving your opponent all short of chances to pass you. The opponent could do it maybe 1 in 10 attempts. I'd say it's worthy!
First of all kids should learn to run forwards and backwards or it's lost for ever. :)

Posted by zenggi 11/12/2010 at 03:26 AM

Have to go to work. I cannot wait to read the next chapters of Gauloses' diary!

Posted by NP 11/12/2010 at 03:32 AM

zenggi, dunno why you're "lost." The players would S&V more, sure, but they'd have to use it consistently for years before they could earn a passing grade (heh heh, "passing," get it?). I was discussing S&V not simply as a surprise tactic, but in a bigger context.

Posted by Avec Double Cordage 11/12/2010 at 03:48 AM

master class by Gauloises, really enjoyed reading this!

Posted by jackson 11/12/2010 at 05:06 AM

Wow, the Roger worship has gone into overdrive now. Not only is he the best tennis player ever, he's the best father ever, and now he's the best multi-language speaker ever. *rolls eyes* Enough already.

Posted by temes 11/12/2010 at 06:12 AM

jackson, don't forget he has the best hair too!

Posted by sisu 11/12/2010 at 06:15 AM

Speaking of language, I was wondering why Rafa hasn’t come out in support of Roger over the entanglement of Roger’s name in the IMG illegal betting situation. Maybe he hasn’t been asked? I remember Roger supported Nikolay when he was involved in that betting scandal and I had hoped to hear Rafa stand up for Roger in this case. Haven’t heard much from Rafa on the ongoing subject of the reduction in the season’s length either. This isn’t meant as an attack on Rafa more as a preference as what I’d like to see.

I like to hear Rafa speak in any language and I’d really like to hear him assert himself and be more visible as the current number one and top player in the world.

BTW, if I missed his commenting on these items, I’d appreciate a link. Thx.

Good morning everyone.

Posted by CWATC 11/12/2010 at 06:16 AM

Have to disagree w/ Brewer here; i think Nole's english may be a bit better than Fed's, Fed's is servicable but far from perfect. French speakers notice faults w/ his French as well.

I think Roger enjoys languages tho'; he seemed to have alot of fun w/ his one-hour mandarin lesson in China, I remember in his 2006 Tokyo blog he began each entry w/ "konichiwa". It's an interest and enthusiasm he has.

Posted by sisu 11/12/2010 at 06:20 AM

Forgot to say -

gauloises, thanks so much for continuing to shareyour gifts with us.

Jamaica Karen - I can just see a big smile on your face. So glad you got to meet and chat with Venus. She does come across as intelligent, warm and funny whenever I listen to her so I’m not surprised. And I second the request to see pictures if at all possible. ;))

Posted by wilson75 11/12/2010 at 06:30 AM

Am I the only one who's getting tired of the GLOAT discussion?

Posted by sisu 11/12/2010 at 06:39 AM

Hi wilson75. I find it tedious when the discussion strays into “who’s better” and it seems to drift into the competition arena. ;)) However, I’ve loved hearing about the players and especially the TWibers' language skills.

I feel so limited speaking only English and at the same time, I’m heartened by the level of “smarts” in the room. ;))

Posted by GB 11/12/2010 at 06:39 AM

Hi sisu!

Rafa often support players as well. He supported Davy too and Reeshie made thing about feeling he was the most supportive re the cocaine thing. I haven't heard anything about him the betting situation as yet, but he hasn't really had many pressers lately, since he hasn't played in what feels like forever:(

I don't think anyone can accuse him of being a shrinking violet re thinking the season's too long:)) Here's what he had to say about it in Shanghai:

Q. You're a very important person now, you and Roger, on the Players Council. You make decisions. If you had Adam Helfant job, how many months off would you give the tour in between the end of the Masters and the start of the next season? How many months off would you like?
RAFAEL NADAL: If I am Adam Helfant, I think I can't. I don't going to do more things than what he is doing because is impossible, no? If you see about the players' part, the thing can be a lot of different situation. But if we see from the other side, from the tournament part, maybe we gonna have less weeks off, no?
Is difficult. Is difficult job for the president of ATP because players and tournaments are together. The ATP, the players and tournaments, this is difficult to make the decision when so many interests are far away from both sides, no?
I think Adam is doing a great job. He knows the season is too long. But even for some players, maybe not for the top players, but for other players, they prefer play during all the season because they have more chances to keep winning money and to keep playing.
The ATP is not only the top 10 players. There are a lot of important players on the tour, not only the top 10. I always say the same: for me the perfect schedule is if you have the chance to play and you have the chance to not play. For example, my feeling always was - and everybody knows that because I say it in the council a lot of times - after US Open you can play here in Asia for two weeks or three weeks maximum. You play the Masters and that's it. That's it for the season.
You can keep having tournaments if you want until the 30th of December, but not 1000 tournament and 500 tournament because this make too much difference on the points, too much difference on the rankings. If you want to be in the top, you have to play. But if you have the chance to choose, I was injury, I was not playing that well, I didn't play a lot of matches, I want to play for the rest of the season 250s, you can play. But if you want to stop, you can stop.
Everybody can be happy. The tournaments can be happy about that. The players must be happy because probably not outside of top 10 players, if they want to keep playing, they going to have chances to keep playing for money and keep playing for points. If the top want to play, if they want to stop, that doesn't gonna make big difference on the ranking.
But is not easy. Everybody thinks similar than me, but at the same time a lot of people thinks that can be a good solution, but at the same time is very difficult to make changes on the ATP. I know where we are working now, Novak, probably Federer, me and other guys who are on the council, we are working for the next generation, not for us, no? When these changes can start probably don't gonna make a big difference on our career. But maybe for the next generation can be better, I will be happy for that.

Posted by GB 11/12/2010 at 06:53 AM

I'm over it too wilson75!

Posted by sisu 11/12/2010 at 07:10 AM

Thanks GB! I’d forgotten about his vocal support of Reeshie and, now that you've tweaked my memory, do remember him supporting Nikolay also. Duh! Hadn’t seen the Shanghai comments so that was good to read. Appreciate your response. ;)) And so quick too!

Hoping jewell is having a wonderful vacation - and - I’m missing her generous comments around here. ;))

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 07:23 AM

Even as a Fed fan I find some of the adoration he gets outrageous.
That said, I think you need to brace for more to come because Fed is really looking good right now and I can easily see him back on top in 2010.

I saw your post and it seems that you haven't had a chance to follow the tourney closely. Glad your pick is still in it but I'm thinking Fed is going to take this one and tie Rafa for Masters. Let's go Fed, lets' go! :)

When is tennis starting today?
Off to check.

Posted by jackson 11/12/2010 at 07:24 AM

sisu 06:39 AM "I find it tedious when the discussion strays into “who’s better” and it seems to drift into the competition arena. ;)) However, I’ve loved hearing about the players and especially the TWibers' language skills."

Well said sisu. I'm interested in languages and like many have said, the linguistic skills of many TWibers is very impressive. I'm envious of their abilities. I find many of the players language abilities impressive too but every discussion here always seems to revolve back to how wonderful Roger is and that's what I find tiresome. Temes, you're right, I forgot about the hair. My bad! :D

GB, thanks for digging up Rafa's comment at the press conference about reducing the length of the season. I'm too lazy to go digging around but there are many quotes from him. He's been one of the leaders on the player's council for a shortened season. It's been one of his pet projects and for a couple of years at least he's been very vocal about it needing to be changed. Sounds like something is finally actually going to happen at the player's council meeting in London this month. It's only two weeks longer of an off season that they're going to get but it's a start.

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 07:27 AM

Could it be that Rafa didn't want to validate the matter by commenting on it?
And has he been asked about it directly?

So, they should be starting in half an hour?

Posted by GB 11/12/2010 at 07:32 AM

No worries sisu.

Yeah, Jackson, any change, however small, is better than nothing IMO.

I haven't heard/seen any questions posed to Rafa on the issue, x-fan.

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 07:45 AM

Thanks. Neither have I.
I think he would have been supportive if asked.

It's pretty slow around here. I would have thought with quaterfinals being played today they'd be more posters around.

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 07:47 AM

... they'd = there'd

Posted by GB 11/12/2010 at 07:53 AM

I think he would be supportive as well, x-fan. And, good point about him probably not wanting to give validity to the rumors by raising it himself.
It's still early by TW time. I'm sure it'll pick up soon, and certainly by the time Fed's playing:)

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 08:02 AM

Sure when Fed plays there is always more traffic :)
I like tennis above all so if I have the chance to watch, I will watch.
By the time the quarters come around in Masters/slams the chances of some pretty good match-ups are pretty high.

Soderling and Roddick on the court already. This one should be good.

Posted by Heather 11/12/2010 at 08:03 AM

Good Morning! Let's go Andy!

Posted by Kristy 11/12/2010 at 08:05 AM

Morning Heather! And everyone!

Posted by jodiecate 11/12/2010 at 08:06 AM

Hey GB, i thort u must be kidding, but haven't been here long enuf to know for sure - thanks for clearing that up

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 08:07 AM

Good morning Heather and Kristy.

Good to see Andy finishing the year in the top 10.

Posted by Heather 11/12/2010 at 08:09 AM

Hi Kristy! Hi x-fan!

Posted by sisu 11/12/2010 at 08:13 AM

Jackson, I can understand when the conversation seems to be dominated by comments about a player other than the one I care most about it can alter my mood. I just chose to scroll what I don’t want to read. FTR, I think there are many pretty wonderful players. ;))

Good point x-fan. And I too think he’d be supportive.

Players on court. Hoping for a good match! *Trying to conceal my happiness*, I’m really happy Andy made the year-end event!

Posted by GB 11/12/2010 at 08:14 AM

Hey Kristy and Heather!
"Let's go Andy!"

No worries jodiecate and welcome!

Posted by sisu 11/12/2010 at 08:15 AM

Welcome jodiecate!

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 08:17 AM

Andy over-slicing

Posted by Kristy 11/12/2010 at 08:19 AM

Hi x-fan and GB!

Andy, come on. I do like the stubble.

Posted by Kristy 11/12/2010 at 08:20 AM

Commie just said a 10:30 start was brutal. I'm glad I'm not the only one to think so.

Posted by Heather 11/12/2010 at 08:20 AM

Deuce already? Geeze....good thing I can't watch on tv!

Posted by Cayman Karen 11/12/2010 at 08:24 AM

Morning guys. My girlfriend only sent 2 pictures to me so far. She is uploading them and then she will forward them to and then I will be able to post them wherever. As soon as that has been done I will make sure to post them.

She was very warm and funny and she put in my copy of her book "Always good to meet "family". We actually share the same last name and I told her that I was the third Williams Sister. This made everyone laugh including Vee. She has a beautiful laugh and it is just as loud as mine - LOL

She wore a green halter dress and slippers. She was so elegant and regal. She made eye contact with folks and had a word of conversation for everyone.

One of the things that stood out for me was that I always said whenever I meet these professional athletes I am so going to expound on all the things that I want to say but once you get close to them it is like one gets tongue tied. And if anyone knows me, I never get tongue tied.

Jay, her sister was there. Think it was Isha. She has lost a lot of weight. She came in, and she walks so regally. No fuss. No excitement. Nothing. There were people with cameras just snapping away and she was her ever cool and calm self. It was amazing.

I have to tell my girlfriend to hurry up and load the pics because I so want to share them with you guys. I did mention TW to her and told her in the blogosphere she is known to her fans as Queen Vee.

Posted by Kristy 11/12/2010 at 08:29 AM

Wow, Karen, you met Venus!?

Posted by jackson 11/12/2010 at 08:34 AM

x-fan at 07:23 AM "That said, I think you need to brace for more to come because Fed is really looking good right now and I can easily see him back on top in 2010."

You think so? I don't. To get back on top he has to go through Rafa and if Rafa's healthy, I don't see any reason why he won't be as dominant next year as he was this. Rafa still has a substantial 4000 point lead on Fed and come AO, if Fed doesn't defend, Rafa is going to gain a good chunk of points on top of that. Fed seems to be back on track from where he was six months ago but I think a lot of people have forgotten, because he's been out of the picture for a lot of weeks, just how well Rafa was playing.

Posted by Cayman Karen 11/12/2010 at 08:34 AM

Kristy, yup. I met Venus. It was wonderful. One more thing to cross off my bucket list - LOL

Posted by Ruth 11/12/2010 at 08:36 AM

sisu: Just read your comment @ 6:15 about Rafa's not commenting on the Roger/IMG CEO business, and I have to agree with what x-fan and GB said in response to your query. Also, I could see the "usual suspects" at TW and elsewhere accusing Rafa of actually wanting to bring more attention to an unpleasant incident involving Roger if he did comment. So, silence -- especially if he hasn't been asked directly to comment -- seems to me to be the best route for Rafa to take.

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 08:39 AM

We'll see. It's true Rafa can add to his advantage before the clay season but once that starts he has no room for error until after Wimbledon.
Anything can happen but I honestly didn't think Roger was going to get back to number 2 so quickly and even make the gap between the top 2 and the rest this wide.

Next year should be interesting and I certainly hope both remain healthy and at their best. The last couple of years they have basically taken turns.

Posted by Carol 11/12/2010 at 08:47 AM

Good morning everybody

I've just watched the vid that Joe posted last night. Wow, it looks that there are more Federer fans in this blog than in all Basel

jackson LOL, you're so right!

Posted by Kristy 11/12/2010 at 08:47 AM

Andy making a lot of unforced errors. He doesn't look comfortable somehow.

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 08:49 AM

Looks like this is headed for TB.

Posted by jackson 11/12/2010 at 08:49 AM

sisu, x-fan & GB, Rafa has talked about shortening the schedule often. A quick google brought up these links just on the first page and a couple of them go back to early 2009. Google found 685,000 links to Nadal + wants + shorter + schedule. Maybe because I've read most of his interviews and read so many articles about him I'm aware of how much he's talked about it and in a lot of instances he's gotten hassled over it as some have said he's whining and it's only because of his knees and stuff like that. As I said in an earlier post, Rafa's been one of the major proponents of shortening the schedule and it's been an important part of his role on the player's council.

Posted by Ruth 11/12/2010 at 08:49 AM

CK: So glad to hear that you met Venus - and I'm jealous since all I have to rmember is a nice answer from her to my question in a Q&A at a WTT pre-match reception a few years ago. LOL (Check your e-mail.)

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 08:50 AM

And just as I post that Andy starts to double fault?
Hold your serve!

Posted by x-fan 11/12/2010 at 08:52 AM

Oh no! Did I jinxed Andy???
Soderling to serve for the set.

Posted by Kristy 11/12/2010 at 08:52 AM

Dang it. Poor Andy. He double faults and Soderling gets the break.

Posted by Heather 11/12/2010 at 08:52 AM

Ahhhh, x-fan you jinxed him! :)

Lost serve....oh bother.

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