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Around the World in 1000 Words 11/30/2010 - 12:40 PM

Debut by Pete Bodo

Hey, anybody know who won the final in that tournament in London over the weekend?

Seriously, though, Roger Federer's win over his nemesis Rafael Nadal this weekend brings with it a significant sense of "closure," at least to the tournament year in tennis. But, as I wrote in a post for ESPN, "closure" works better following an unexpected tragedy or bout in a court of law than in sports. So let's remember, there's still this little matter of the Davis Cup final coming over the weekend.


Bad News for Davis Cup Reformers

The run-up to this Davis Cup final vividly demonstrates the significance of the tournament to all but the most transcendent of international stars, and it ought to resonate with those who cling to the idea, promoted mostly in the American Davis Cup-averse media, that the premier annual international team sports competition is passé, or of no interest to anyone not wearing a seersucker suit and straw boater.

When Novak Djokovic said the impending Davis Cup final in Belgrade (where Serbia will host France) was a distraction that prevented him from perhaps having the kind of World Tour Finals he would ordinarily hope for, you know that this "nobody really cares about Davis Cup" meme is somewhat threadbare. And guess what? The increasing number of emerging, top-quality players from nations other than the U.S. is only going to boost the luster of the competition. 

Belgrade may not be a major tennis capital (yet) or media center, but if this final delivers what it promises, Djokovic may pull off a John McEnroe. When McEnroe arrived on the scene, Davis Cup was at low ebb in the U.S. He reinvigorated it, and it's safe to say he took the whole world with him. It was simply because he believed in the concept and credibility of Davis Cup. Also, McEnroe more or less shamed a number of his countrymen, including Vitas Gerulaitis and (briefly) Jimmy Connors into re-examining their indifference to the competition. So forget the problems of marketing Davis Cup, the so-called overloaded calendar, the trials of having to play a Davis Cup tie in the after glow of a major). The blunt truth is that top players—most top players—have the utmost respect for the competition and do their best to take part in it.

The Bureaucrat

While next weekend will belong to Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and company, this last one was all Federer's, although he did recognize his own supporting cast of two, even though neither man lifted a racket. After winning, Federer acknowledged the impact Paul Annacone has had on his results since they began working in earnest in June. Here's the exact quote from The Mighty Fed:

"I had to regain some confidence. That only comes through winning matches. After having somewhat of a disappointing clay season, Halle, Wimbledon stretch, where I wasn't able to win any tournaments and didn't play my best tennis, played a bit passive, it was important that I was able to pick up my game. I started moving better, started feeling well physically and mentally. I'm sure Paul has helped in this regard. So has Severin (Luthi). That's why I'm very happy with my team at this stage of the season."

This is typical Federer commentary, and it confirms the feeling that the guy could have a heckuva second career after tennis as something like a high-ranking UN official. Notice the baroque, elusive touches. "I'm sure Paul has helped. . ." not simply, "Paul really helped. . ." What exactly did he mean by "happy with my team at this stage of the season?" I thought the season was over. Note the patient stating of the obvious: "It was important that I was able to pick up my game."  How about the nod to Severin Luthi (how many part-time coaches can one guy have)?

The instinct to spread around the credit and not give anyone too big—or small—a share, to not leave anyone out while also not admitting to over-reliance on anyone, is typical Federer and not all that different from the hard-working bureaucrat's mindset. And yes, I know that you could parse anyone's comments, delivered in a press conference, in a similar fashion. There's a lot of fat and grisle in most conversations. But TMF's is of a certain kind that I believe sheds a little light on his personality. I have to admit that this manner of speech and the thinking it implies leaves me a little cold, because, hail, it is cold.

I don't want to take credit away from Luthi; he's served Federer steadily if, to us, opaquely. That's fine. But from here it looks like the big change in Federer's attitude as well as certain aspects of Federer's game, owe to Annacone, the apostle of aggressive, "show your opponent that you're Roger Federer and he's not" tennis. Or, if you prefer something less blunt and more literal: "Play to your strengths." (As in,  don't just bunt back some kind of return with your shotmaking arsenal.)

The rounded edges of Federer's speech can be explained various ways, starting with his talent for and presumed desire to avoid making waves. Note that Federer divulged no state secrets in praising Annacone and Luthi and contrast that to what we know about the working relationship between, say, Andy Roddick and Larry Stefanki, or even the late-career technical analyses freely offered by Andre Agassi, or even the obsession with the role of character in tennis so often indulged by Boris Becker.

Ironically, Federer's approach brings to mind something Becker once told me about Annacone's other iconic protégé, Sampras. I paraphase: Pete has a great talent for setting up walls that keep the rest of the world out and help him stay focused on his mission. You could say the same of Federer.

Three Things You Can't Avoid. . .

It's funny, but the news in tennis tends to come in bunches having a greater relation to the Grand Slam and Masters calendars than any other factor. That's because outifts like the ATP and WTA like to drop their big news items during moments when the eyes of the world are focused on tennis. Hence, it was a pretty big week for all kinds of news, resounding as well as ephemeral. Did you see that Serena Williams pulled out of Hopman Cup as well as the Australian Open? She's still recuperating from surgery and issued a heartfelt promise that she'd be back and "better than ever."

Rere Maybe, when she's fully healed, Serena could have a heart-to-heart with 40-year old Kimiko Date Kumm, who recently averred that she may not be able to compete in the next Asian games (she lost in the semis this year) because by then she'll be 44 years old. I'm just hoping Serena and her sister Venus Williams can stick around long enough to hit, say, 32. On the other hand, starting in their late 20s, players are basically hostages to the unpredictable master, injury.

Kimiko said she's been feeling the strain of top-grade WTA tennis in her 40-year-old body, and I say we need to immediately launch a Don't go, Kimiko! campaign. I'm not a sentimentalist who thinks players ought to quit while they're on top or near it. Play as long as you want and can, knowing that there are three things in life you can't avoid: death, taxes and the WTA or ATP ranking/entry system. That's something Serena will have to deal with as well, if and when she returns. She'll probably be out of the Top 10 by then.

Spouting off the Starboard Bow. . .

How about that tempest in a teapot in Wales, where the chief executive of Welsh Rugby Union got his shorts all in a bunch because the BBC stayed with that thrilling Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal match at the World Tour Finals. Because of the length of that match, viewers were denied the first seven minutes of a match between the Welsh and the All-Blacks (New Zealand). It's usually tennis advocates complaining about the lack of respect they get in the big picture, so while I sympathize with the Welsh, all I can say is:  a food chain is not a pretty thing, try to live with it.


Well, I'm already over my promised 1000 words, and I haven't even touched on the Aussie old guard, who are back in the news. John Newcombe called out 18-year-old Bernard Tomic for being in poor physical shape (while admitting he doesn't actually know what Tomic is—or isn't—doing, fitness-wise), and Tony Roche is back for another stint as Lleyton Hewitt's coach.

Let's leave the implications of those two items for the start of next year, when we'll be homing in on Melbourne and the Australian Open. For those of you who care, this is a spinoff of the News of the Day, which was a hard format to float because it appeared at random, and often dwelt on items (as does this piece) that are not exactly hot off the presses.

But this, or something like it, probably will become a regular feature at TennisWorld except during weeks when I'm traveling and providing on-site coverage. I'll try to keep to the word count, too. . .

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Posted by Ruth 12/01/2010 at 10:31 AM

Oh, that MA and TMFunk and tina et al have joined the festivities, and I'm enjoying the talk about sustitute slams and Masters locations and FOOP takeovers etc etc, I have to go and get my car's stupid emissions test so that I can transfer title from PA to GA so that I can register the car here so that.... How many more ways are there for you to squeeze more money from me, Georgia? :-)

See you all later!

(Oh, good news: my USO buddy and I just confirmed our hotel reservation for our stay in NYC for USO 2011; we have to do that 9 months in advance or risk not being able to stay in our preferred place. Yipee!)

Posted by sokol 12/01/2010 at 10:34 AM

Heather, thank you for ths info on Roddick

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 12/01/2010 at 10:35 AM

gauloises 12/01/2010 at 09:02 AM

If Miami desperately wants a tournament, they can have Cincinnatti's slot. That never seems to have very much atmosphere, and I can't spell it.
I dunno, every year it seems players say they love Cincinnati and vote for it as one of their fave tournaments. Also, both Miami and Cincy are owned by the revered Paul Flory, and as of next year Cincy will also be combined WTA/ATP. Mr. Flory enjoys having both tourneys and wouldn't choose one over the other, nor can he split in two. Plus, Cincinnatti's weather is hot and humid enough at the height of summer, to use that slot for Miami would be dreadful. Also, that's the height of hurricane season.

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 10:35 AM

later Ruth. Don't worry. I doubt much would have changed around here in the time you are gone. TW sometimes is like a soap opera that runs on for years - You can miss episodes for months, but all it takes is 5 minutes to get right back into it :)

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 10:39 AM

Well, if you're going to focus on the negatives, Tina :)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 10:40 AM

*dutiful face*


So true, Gauly. I know I sat on my sofa in that exact same fashion. :)

Posted by freddy 12/01/2010 at 10:41 AM

lol TMFunk!!

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 10:43 AM

Lol TMFunk!!!

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 10:48 AM guys are the best. thank you, thank you very much :)

Posted by Nam1 12/01/2010 at 10:51 AM

"If he wasn't citing fatigue, he'd answer the question directly and without ambiguity. Instead he avoided the question and mentioned the previous match.
It was very easy to avoid any controversy - just say "fatigue was not a factor". "


He referenced the previous match in his answer because the question referred to it. It's very easy to pull one sentence out of context and use it to suit your sensibilities.

I daresay all of us can do this with Roger's remarks or Rafa's remarks afetr various matches.

(OT: i actually used "daresay" in a sentence!!)

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 12/01/2010 at 10:55 AM

The players like Cincy - but it must say something about its level of atmosphere that I could go to the Cincy tourney for free and never have. Maybe next year?


Posted by jackson 12/01/2010 at 11:02 AM

Mick - "If he wasn't citing fatigue, he'd answer the question directly and without ambiguity. Instead he avoided the question and mentioned the previous match.
It was very easy to avoid any controversy - just say "fatigue was not a factor". "

But I don’t gonna say I lost the match because I was tired. What I gonna say and what I feel is I lost the match because I played against a very good Roger Federer in one of his favorite surfaces. And when he’s playing like this, is very difficult to stop him, no?

Mick, in what world does "I don't gonna say I lost the match because I was tired" not mean "fatigue was not a factor"? How much more clear and unambiguous do you want him to be? He said many times over that he lost because Roger was better. But if you're determined to find something wrong with what he said you will so go for it. I'm done.

Posted by Syd 12/01/2010 at 11:03 AM

"Some people just don't know what to do with their time."

Evidently NP is one of those people. If he is a person and not a program.

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 11:07 AM

in other news, the Heat visit the Cavs tomorrow for the first time since Bron-Bron "took his talents to Southbeach"...should be interesting to see the fan reaction...

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 11:14 AM

Ready for the fans reaction to Bron? Boo for the entire time he is on the floor. LOL on TW soap opera.

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 11:17 AM

MA - As long as they don't throw stuff at 23! :) I'm very intrigued by how the Heat will fare this season. Bosh seems to be settling in, but the Wade-James dynamic is a work in progress, and they continue to get pushed around by the more physical teams (aka the celtics). Can Spoelstra make the necessary defensive adjustments? Will James and Wade truly complement each other? Interesting storylines, meanwhile the usual suspects, LA and the Celts quietly cruise along...

Posted by susan 12/01/2010 at 11:20 AM

i was interested to see what other bloggers felt.

(re: jenkins article which includes the mistake of naming the author as pete instead of gauloise/hannah. flattering, actually)

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 11:25 AM

Kim Clijsters is WTA player of the year as posted by Jewell earlier:

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 11:27 AM

LA is currently on a 3 game losing streak as Memphis won last night. Its true that the Heat is lacking an inside presence and a good defensive point guard to slow Rondo, Williams(Utah), Nash and etc... Bosh is playing like he was at the Raptors lately but his rebounding numbers are down. We will see how James and Wade will progress.

Posted by CWATC 12/01/2010 at 11:30 AM

Look, Nadal agreed he was tired because he said now is not the time to talk about this.

He also said it's not the reason he lost; he lost because Roger played really well.

I think he thinks, and I agree, that had Roger played even slightly worse Nadal could well have won despite being tired.

What would have happened if he wasn't tired at all? Who knows?

Every match result is based on a combination of factors and the form of both players. Fedal haven't played enough recently on HC to say that one of them has a clear edge over the other, if they play more we will have a bigger sample of matches.

For now, it was a great performance and great tournament from Fed.

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 11:32 AM

I was thinking about something last night, and I hadn't seen it discussed here yet. Does anyone think Rafa might have been tired in that final on Sunday? :)

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 11:34 AM

I'm not sure, Sherlock, that's such a completely new thought to me I'll have to mull it over for a while - but I'll tell you what I've been wondering: do you think Mardy Fish has lost weight?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 11:36 AM

That blog post is way over the top. Hater with a jealous heart? Come on.

Jenkins was making a prediction about 2011. A bold one, yes, not very well-worded. All the same I can't see what is so wrong with that.

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 11:36 AM

Lol, G. An even better question. :)

It seems like I heard it mentioned in passing during the U.S. Open. I kept waiting to hear more on the subject, but the announcers seemed reluctant to go there.

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 11:39 AM

hugs to Sherlock and Gauloises
you guys rock!!!!

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 11:43 AM

*fist bumps to Beth*

Well done to Kim on the MVP award. Does anyone know if she has any kids?

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 12/01/2010 at 11:43 AM

msf, you are great with rafa friendly stats, but why dont u ever address the 'fatigue' issue properly? how can an amazing athlete get tired after a 3 hour match and 24 hours of recovery?

THIS is the question at hand, we all konw the head to head and titles Rafa has won, quite honestly for some of us, this whole story makes no sense... a amazing ahtlete simply is not going to run out of gas as often as rafa supposedly does, and it only too quick to point out, backhandedly, of course ... Alex Corretja, i mean he basically dismissed the result as fallout from the murray match ...

who can make any sense of this if Rafa is indeed an amazing athlete?

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 11:46 AM

fwiw - IW is an absolute must in the tennis schedule
You simply cannot ignore the fact that Southern California is a huge hot bed of tennis activity
The weather at that time of year is perfect - it is the most highly attended event outside of the four majors on the calendar
and to ignore such a high market volume area with no tennis of a major consequence would be a huge mistake ( the LA men's event and the movable feast that is the WTA event in Manhattan Beach, Carson / SanDiego are just minor players here )
huge - in terms of a business plan
and we all know that money is what makes the game go round

I do think that South America should have a major - and that there should be one during the grass court season -
but the powers that be are trying to shorten the season

and then there is the fact that I go to the event yearly
of course , it is all about me :)

Very sorry about Roddick losing his grandma - condolences to him and his family

Posted by Andrew 12/01/2010 at 11:48 AM

I'd like to see some discussion about whether Federer is - using a term I believe I've just invented - the Greatest Of All Time (geddit? GOAT! geddit?)

I just don't think his play and achievements get enough attention here at TW.

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 11:48 AM

"fist bump "

good question ? I don't know - seems she took a long break a while back to get married - it could be about time for kids :)

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 11:49 AM


Long time no "see". Hope you are doing well. :) How's the weather in SoCal?

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 12/01/2010 at 11:50 AM

I cant believe the media doesnt jump on Nadal for being in poor shape, that NEVER comes up ... imagine if Roddick or Birdy or any of the other players were draggin their arses around in a 2 of 3 set match, they would get raked over the coals as poor athletes, or getting old, or fragile ...

bottom line is, KADS need excuses for their heroes when they lose, and this is Rafa and his fans excuse, "this is not the right time to talk about that" is code for, "Of ocurse I was tired, you idiot, didnt you see the match? But now that Ive said that, Federer was awesome! ..."


Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 11:51 AM

Ruth - but in the excerpts from the articles that YOU linked, there was clear mention of Nadal's tiredness**, indeed, in some cases strongly hinting that was the reason for his loss, so your saying that people who feel this way are seeing something that isn't there is simply, provably, wrong.

And 'round and 'round we go.

NP - criticism - well, really when ISN'T he heavy handed? He is also right about a couple of I expressed poorly that I had "let go of that grievance." I should have said I had channeled the grievance into a different plan. :-) Also, the criticism by he and others of 'ominous' is quite fair. I think the word 'perplexing' would have served better. My excuse is that I wrote the thing in 10 minutes..not counting the time I took to re-watch the match...what fUN!!...and haste makes mistakes. (Sometimes I think the same thing happens to Pete - a bit of a scramble to get something to the Twibe. Cracks can show.)

He is correct too, in that that is no such thing, really, as totally objective journalism. What I was trying to do was give a 'just the facts, ma'am' take on the match in the early going and move to off court factors and some speculation at the end. Which is what most writers who covered this match also did. Just that THEIR speculation was mostly about Nada's tiredness w/out wondering WHY, beyond the Muzz match, he was tired or comparing it to his opponents level of energy. Two guys out there, who had each made their way through the tournament, a fact which sometimes seemed to elude them

Thanks again to all those who DID like the first installment from the CL Wire Service/Tennis Line.

Posted by CWATC 12/01/2010 at 11:52 AM

OK, one last thing and I'm out.

If anyone wants to seriously analyze Rafa's performance at the WTF, which was OK, I think the main issue is not his fatigue in the final, but putting it in the context of his hardcourt season overall.

While he won the USO, Tokyo was his only other title, and the WTF his only other final (and he was somewhat lucky to make it there given the struggles against Roddick and Murray)

The USO serve seemed to only really work at the USO. Do people think it will make more regular appearances next year to make his life easier on HC?

In some ways his 2010 HC season was inferior to 08. Should we expect improvement in 2011?

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 11:53 AM

I always expect Rafa to improve on his previous year's performances - one of the many terrifying things about him.

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 11:54 AM

LOL! Brilliant, Andrew. :)

Tim, you really need a new gig. :)

I, and about every other Rafa fan on this board that I've read the past few days, don't need any excuses. Rafa got beat. It happens sometimes in sports. Ho hum. :)

Posted by Syd 12/01/2010 at 11:55 AM

"He is correct too, in that that is no such thing, really, as totally objective journalism."

oh gawd another tired old meme.

Reportage is objective. Opinion writing is not.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 11:55 AM

jackson - he said it "wasn't the right moment to talk about that." Clearly implying there was a 'that' to talk about. If someone had asked Fed after he lost to Byrdych whether his back was bothering him, and he had said, that, "this is not the right moment to talk about that.." he would have gotten burned nearly as badly as he did because he DID talk about it. Fed really could take a page from Rafa's book...never confirm nor deny anything. Let the reporters do it for you.

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 11:55 AM

and fist bump to Andrew

see - sarcasm does translate on typepad

Posted by freddy 12/01/2010 at 11:56 AM

Nah - he can't be Andrew. Someone told me he had a lousy HTH against Rafa...anyone know what it is?

Posted by Vie 12/01/2010 at 11:56 AM

Rafa probably was tired. Of course that's not an excuse for the loss, nor was he excusing his loss because of it. He knows that. Now, why are Fed fans making mountains out of a molehill? Are people upset that Fed is not being praised to high heavens for his win. Well, don't attack Nadal or the journalists. It is the consequence of the nature of things. Federer had an amazing 4th quarter 2010; as we can see, he is very much in the chase. The amazing year belongs to Rafa though, and the journalists are right to put credit and the limelight on Rafa, ending 2010. I would grant you, given Fed’s form and motivation this quarter and his new coaching situation, it is possible you fans can have your day carousing again and TMF can still surface for a few months or even a year so he can get that extra week at #1 he must be craving.

Rafa is now 24, not that young anymore, accomplished already. He would have lower energy; health/fatigue/aging issues will be on the horizon. He must be spent. Consider, he had accomplishments at a faster clip than Roger; in 8 years, he has achieved the same quality, if not in volume, as Roger has done in 12 years. Roger’s 12-year career is a gentler arc to Rafa’s. I have some apprehension, because Rafa has just reached a peak. Hope he continues his excellence, strength and motivation. Longevity should be a concern for him now.

Posted by A Fed Fan 12/01/2010 at 11:58 AM


Rafa is treated like a special "minority" and is given special favors by the media and ignorant fans. He can complain about endless amounts of injuries, and all is fine and dandy.

But let Roger even give a hint that a thigh or back problem contributed to a loss, and ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE on him.

But Roger is game, though, and welcomes the burdens that comes with being a "true" leader.

PS: It is the height of ridiculousness for Rafa fans to claim fatigue when Rafa did not play for about a month before WTF. Roger simply broke Rafa's will with the attacking game he showed in that 3rd set.

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 11:58 AM

Sherlock - it's ok here weather wise
a bit chilly for my liking - but at least it is not raining at the moment
unlike last Saturday when I stupidly sat out in the rain at a football game , the results of which will go unmentioned

How are you ? excited about the Ducks and their BCS chances ?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 11:59 AM

I don't think Rafa will ever be consistent enough on hard courts to dominate, he seems to have to redline it too often.

Can't remember what he did on HCs in 2008 - Olympics? (shocking, I know, I should have all these facts at my fingertips...AM will be stealing my Rafa fan card back). He retired in Paris and didn't play at the YEC, I do know that.

I do think he's had more WTF losses on HCs than he did in 2009, but then he's hit greater heights too. Only talking about the later HC season, not the stuff before clay.

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 12:01 PM

Olympics, think he won either Cincy or Toronto? I seem to recall him beating Nicholas Kiefer in the final, that was unusual :)

Posted by Grant 12/01/2010 at 12:01 PM

"how can an amazing athlete get tired after a 3 hour match and 24 hours of recovery?"

Safin was in town and they hit the bars together


Posted by marron 12/01/2010 at 12:02 PM

Andrew, Sherlock, gauloises - triple play!!


Thanks muchly for the laugh. I'm not nearly quick enough. Although I did notice something Saturday, Rafa signing the camera with his *right* hand, yet he plays lefthanded... news on that?

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 12:03 PM

Tina would be pleased with this link from NYT:

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/01/2010 at 12:03 PM

susan, 11:20,

That blog post gave Jenkins several well-deserved shots.

The quality of the writing in Sports Illustrated has declined precipitously since the days Frank Deford wrote for that magazine regularly and Philip Roth and Yukio Mishima would add their contributions.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 12:04 PM

Toronto! Now I remember, I think...didn't he beat Gasquet in three after an insanely brilliant first set TB from both players, and then Murray afterwards in two tight sets, and Kiefer in the final?

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 12:05 PM

"Well done to Kim on the MVP award. Does anyone know if she has any kids?"

Surprised the story did not use the working mom angle:)

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 12:06 PM

Beth, sorry about that football game. :(

I died watching that one too. I always think about you and Jenn when I watch the Trojans now, which is fun. :)

I'm doing well, thanks. I AM excited about the Ducks. Wild times up here, after a couple near misses in the last decade. But truth be told, it's a hard one still. I'm a bigger OSU fan, and if they win, they can get to a bowl. But it's hard not to root for the Ducks and a chance at history. Let's just say I'm conflicted. :)

"I don't think Rafa will ever be consistent enough on hard courts to dominate, he seems to have to redline it too often."

Agreed, Jewell. But it's always a big challenge for him. I like that. :)

And yes, the Olympics in '08. On a fast track. :)

Posted by Vie 12/01/2010 at 12:07 PM

jewell, 2008 2nd half of year hardcourt,
Rafa had 2 wins (Olympics, MS Toronto),3 SF (USOpen, MS Cincinatti, MS Madrid), 1 QF (MS Paris), skipped YEC and Davis Cup.

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 12:08 PM

If you say so - I only remember the Gasquet match (that WAS good) and then Kiefer popping up in the final. Obviously I like to blot out Murray losing to Rafa whenever possible - not easy as it happens so many bloody times ...

Marron - really? Rafa might not be a natural lefty? I demand news and a thorough investigation.

Posted by Vie 12/01/2010 at 12:08 PM

That should be skipped DC Final. He did DC Semifinal on clay.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:08 PM

Syd - um yes and no...reporting that the temperature outside is 52.2 degrees is observable fact. Reporting that it is raining is observable fact. Reporting that there are wind gusts up to 40 mph is observable fact. Reporting that it is 'a miserable, day worthy of a Holmes mystery with tendrils of damp fog creeping around the he ankles and into the heart of man' may actually be equally as true as the temp and precipitation report but it is not objective. Another person might 'report' the same conditions as ' bracing blasts of well mixed elements of wind and rain.'

I described Fed's BH winner on BP as "scorching." Is that reporting or opinion writing? Or just plain writing? To me is WAS scorching. Others may well pick other very different adjectives to describe the same shot.

Anyway to be clear, for what I wrote...I was actually going for a bit of both...all 3 really, reporting, writing, and opinion writing. Just trying to keep them a bit separate from each other within the same article AND trying to provide an opinion that was a bit different from much of what was out there.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 12:09 PM

I remember the Simon match in Madrid. Thanks, Vie. :)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 12:11 PM

Just remember the 2008 USO SF, Gauly. and AO this year. Rotterdam last year. Toronto this year...

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/01/2010 at 12:11 PM

A Fed Fan writes:

"PS: It is the height of ridiculousness for Rafa fans to claim fatigue when Rafa did not play for about a month before WTF. Roger simply broke Rafa's will with the attacking game he showed in that 3rd set."

Unless I've missed something, the only posters on this blog yakking about Rafa's alleged fatigue are a few Federer fans, who repeatedly bring up the issue (or non-issue).

But if Rafa was fatigued in the final, perhaps winning 3 majors this year and building a 3300 point or so lead over Federer in ATP rating points was a factor.

A Fed Fan:

How about winning three majors and three Masters 1000 titles in 2011, like Rafa did this year, and letting us know in December 2011 whether you feel any fatigue.

Posted by susan 12/01/2010 at 12:12 PM

msf, i thought he deserved a few of them, too.

i can't compare the quality of the writing then and now. i was never a regular reader, although my father/brothers subscribed and read it.

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 12/01/2010 at 12:12 PM

good ones guys!

the part thought that keeps these 'debates' going so long is that seemingly rational, fair minded people cant admit the obvious, or explain it, or acknowledge the contradictions (and at times failings) in their heroes ...

Fed fans have come to love and accept Fred Federer's appearances, why cant some Rafa fans own up to his contradictions, backhanded excuses and sportsmanship/gamesmanship dualities?

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 12:12 PM

"Although I did notice something Saturday, Rafa signing the camera with his *right* hand, yet he plays lefthanded... news on that? "

LOL, marron! Hilarious, yourself. :)

I think we should look into that. It's news to me. :)

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:13 PM

tina- btw- you should definitely go to Cincy if you can. It is a very underrated small mid sized city, IMO. Small but wonderful art museum. First rate symphony orch. that plays in a hall that looks like an old side wheel River Boat. right near the museum is a first rate, if small, arboretum/eco zone/butterfly arcade. All the 'small' makes it very do-able.

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 12:15 PM

Yeah - you say that, Jewell, but the only one that's actually good to remember is the 2008 USO semi-final. Rafa retired in Australia so it's hard to feel good about that, and if memory serves picked up an injury during the match in Rotterdam.

And sure, it's lovely to have beaten him in a Masters, but I think you know I'd trade that many times over for a WTF or Wimbledon win ...

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:16 PM

For those who complain that Federer fans are "never satisfied," I offer this:

(Can't believe how young he looks in this...can't believe he EVER looked this young.)


Posted by tennis RIP 12/01/2010 at 12:17 PM

Since manuelsantanafan didn't bite on these questions, let me offer them for general consumption, with a few modifications:

1. If Nadal's loss to Federer at the YEC was NOT because of fatigue, then how do you think he would have done against Federer in fast hardcourt finals late in the year if he had actually made it to any such finals before 2010?

2. If his loss to Federer at the YEC WAS because of fatigue, then how can the same athlete be tired at the YEC after five weeks of rest, yet full of energy at Wimbledon after six weeks of play?

3. Since his break before the YEC was as long as his post-Wimbledon break, how could he be full of energy up to the end of the US Open series, yet fatigued at the YEC?

4. In general, since he has played far fewer matches in the fall than the spring over the last 5-6 years, and has had long breaks after Wimbledon, and since the offseason is so short, why is he frequently "burned out" late in the year to the point that he has won only 3 titles after July over the last five years, versus 29 titles up to July? Shouldn't he be MORE tired at Wimbledon?

5. How is it is that two of those late-year victories were the Olympics and the US Open, which he just happened to need for his career resume, and that he appeared at those tournaments full of energy, whereas at many other late-year tournaments he has been "tired" and unable to compete?

6. Can you think of any other top athlete in any sport who is routinely competitive for only about half the season?

7. Is it really fair to compare the H2H records of an athlete who is only competitive for about half the season against athletes who compete consistently for the entire season, when almost all the meetings between them are during the first athlete's "competitive periods?" Isn't that comparing the top performance of one athlete to the average performance of others?

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 12:17 PM

"why cant some Rafa fans own up to his contradictions, backhanded excuses and sportsmanship/gamesmanship dualities?"

Tut tut, Tim. You don't want to take away from that Edberg award, do you?

Posted by Syd 12/01/2010 at 12:17 PM

"I described Fed's BH winner on BP as "scorching." Is that reporting or opinion writing?"

That's colour CL; and it's your opinion. If you'd said it reaching speeds of 125 mph, that would be reporting. (if that happened to be true.) :)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 12:20 PM

Murray still gets the Ws though! They don't count any less.

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 12:20 PM

msf writes: "How about winning three majors and three Masters 1000 titles in 2011, like Rafa did this year, and letting us know in December 2011 whether you feel any fatigue."

msf: I'm sure you, of all people can find the answer to that one from 2006 or 2007, considering you have facts dating back to the early 20's on your fingertips? :)

Posted by Syd 12/01/2010 at 12:20 PM


Sorry, if you said his backhand reached speeds of 125 mphs...

or he sent a scorching 125 mph backhand down the line..

color and reportage.

Posted by freddy 12/01/2010 at 12:21 PM

Really msf? Rafa won 3 Majors this year and has built up a 3300 point lead? That's remarkable...

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 12:23 PM

True, but I don't find them that comforting :)

Anyway we all know that a "ret." is not the same even if your guy was playing really well. You always feel bad for the opponent.

It's just a fan feeling, but I still feel like Murray hasn't won the ones when it has *really* counted against Rafa yet. But that's just me.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/01/2010 at 12:23 PM


You brought up this week's Aegeon Championships at Royal Albert Hall.

According to the article for which you provided a link, the court surface is wood.

I find that hard to believe.

I would suspect that the surface might be an undersurface covered by carpet.

Living in that area, do you have any greater knowledge on the court surface.

Same question regarding the O2 surface, which was temporary.

The ATP site said the surface was a hard court. You attended that tournament. Do you have any additional information on the actual surface? Was it some hard undersurface covered by a carpet or the type of surface used for a more traditional and permanent hard court--indoors or outdoors?

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 12:24 PM

Sherlock - hmm - did not realize you were more in the OSU corner - so yeah, conflicted must explain it
kind of like how I am when UCLA plays Notre Dame - I just wondering - can't they both lose ? Or perhaps the earth could just open up and swallow the stadium down into its core ?
Ha ! sort of the same but not really :)
anyway , I am routing for the Ducks
Last week , I had a really hard time choosing between Alabama and Auburn . I mean do I cheer for the team that is going to have everything swiped away in three years due to NCAA violations or do I cheer for Nick Satan ? tough choice

Cincinnati - I know you keep saying that it is a great little city, CL and I am gonna try to give it the benefit of the doubt . But any place that has canned chili served over spaghetti noodles as its signature cuisine just seems to come up as a no for me
speaking of conflicted - I remember that match between Rafa and Richard - it was a good first set - and it just was hard to watch , as I cheer for both players to do well

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:26 PM

Syd - exactly - so if I say anything other that the exact speed of the BH winner, assuming it is a 'known known' ;-), or the fact that is was a winner on BP, I have taken off my reporting hat and put on my color, otherwise known as opinion, hat, no? My simple CHOICE of modifier invests my writing with opinion. Heck, even the use of any modifier is color and opinion.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 12:28 PM

*passes MSF's question to gauloises, who might actually know the answer*

Posted by Colette (kiss my asterisk) 12/01/2010 at 12:29 PM

I think Fed's WTF victory should have an ASTERISK because he was playing against an unfairly fatigued Nadal (It was Murray's fault, not Rafa's that he had to go 3 sets.)

Posted by Syd 12/01/2010 at 12:30 PM

er, imho CL the best nonfiction writing is a combo of fact and colour.

Opinion writing is something else altogether, it can include fact, or it can skew the facts to the author's liking.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/01/2010 at 12:31 PM


On my fingertips, I have facts dating back to the early 1600s regarding sports that were the progenitors of tennis.

Most of these facts are of dubious reliability but, on a day I have fewer more important activities in which to engage, I'll share some of these facts with you.

Posted by gauloises 12/01/2010 at 12:31 PM

Pretty sure it was a proper surface, not carpet.

But honestly? I did not think about it at all beyond noting that it seemed slower than Paris. Court surface is not my bag - I can just about tell the difference between clay and grass.

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 12:31 PM

i got to run out
play nice folks
and enjoy the day

Posted by Andrew 12/01/2010 at 12:32 PM

Well, moving on.

To me (sadly) the ATP story of 2010 was about who didn't show up, rather than who did.

I had marked this year down, at the end of 2009, as potentially producing the finest tennis and best matches I could expect to see. At the end of 2009, Del Potro (USO winner and WTF finalist) had seemingly established himself as the next big thing - turning the Big 4 into the Big 5 (and Del Potro is quite big). Meanwhile, Davydenko put a great run together at the end of the year. Would Murray and Djokovic step up? Would Marin Cilic confirm the expectations placed on his career? Could Robin Soderling consolidate his breakthrough season? Who would surprise to the upside? And what would Nadal and Federer produce?

At the end of 2010, you'd have to say it's been Nadal first (by a mile), Federer second, Murray and Djokovic below par, and the rest trailing the field. The AO 2010 was promising: Davydenko had confirmed the heightened expectations by winning in Doha (saving a MP vs Nadal in the final), then had run Federer ragged for a set and a half before imploding. Murray had taken it to Nadal in the QF, then knocked off Cilic in the SF before succumbing to Federer, who was now playing assured tennis.

Then the wheels fell off. Del Potro and Davydenko got injured. Federer got sick. Murray went into a funk. So did Cilic. Djokovic was - nowhere very prominent.

That left Nadal, who I imagined looking around at his rivals with a raised eyebrow. Two surprising SF defeats in the US HC masters were followed by a glorious clay season, utter dominance at RG, and top class performances at Wimbledon and the US Open. Nadal had to scrap through two five set matches to win Wimbledon, but he was only tested by Djokovic in the US Open final.

If you're a Nadal fan, these triumphs were sweet, and confirmed his status in the very top tier of the ATP Open Era. If you're a Federer fan, the QF defeats in RG and Wimbledon and the USO SF loss to Djokovic have been somewhat ameliorated by the renewed vigor of Federer's play as Paul Annacone has worked his way into Federer's support team.

If you're a Djokovic or Murray fan, the wait for either of these two to muscle their way past the long term holders of the top two places continues. If you're a Davydenko, Del Potro, or Cilic fan, my sympathies. Berdych showed promise in the first half of the year, and squandered it in the second half. Soderling confirmed that the RG F 2009 was not a flash in the pan, but he only won his first Masters 1000 at the end of the year, and Bjorn Borg and Samantha E excepted, few see Soderling as a genuine elite player in the making yet.

As for classic matches - the Murray Nadal YTF SF was a very good match, but it's hard for me to call it a great one. The same for Federer-Djokovic USO SF, which I thought Djokovic should have won in 3 or 4 sets, and which featured very inconsistent levels of play, the fifth set excepted. Maybe Gulbis-Nadal Rome SF, or Llodra-Soderling Paris SF also stand out. But beyond that, it's hard to think of great matches in 2010.

So, if you were a Nadal fan, congratulations again. For the rest of us - roll on 2011.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:33 PM

beth - oh I agree about the cuisine. If you do go, try the Cincinattian Hotel. I haven't been back to Cincy for several years now...used to work there for a week or so a couple of times a year for several years..and I am sure by now some good local restaurants have sprung up. But I admit, when we were there, it was slim...actually NOT so slimming..pickins'

Other great small Ohio cities - Dayton! I kid you not. Can any city that produced the Wright Bros. the carburator...or one of the rather critical parts of engines...and half the cast of the West Wing, including, Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, and Robe Lowe, be bad? No. It is a terrific little town. Also, they make some sort of a cookie there that is so good, I swear it is laced with cocaine.

Posted by ActionFlunky 12/01/2010 at 12:33 PM

The Ducks? The Beavers? The Tigers? The Tide? Pfffffft. On Wisconsin!!!

Posted by mick1303 12/01/2010 at 12:34 PM

Posted by manuelsantanafan 12/01/2010 at 12:11 PM
A Fed Fan:

How about winning three majors and three Masters 1000 titles in 2011, like Rafa did this year, and letting us know in December 2011 whether you feel any fatigue.
That’s just dishonest to apply the standards of 24 years old prime athlete to 29 (next year will be 30) veteran.
When Fed was roughly Nadal’s age he won 3 slams in 2006 and finished with YEC title and didn’t complain about any fatigue. He won 92 matches and 12 tournaments (compare with Nadal’s 76 matches and 7 tournaments)

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:35 PM

Syd - fair enough. But is sports writing 'non fiction' in the true sense of 'non fiction'? I dunno.

Anyway, I hope to achieve a 'fair and balanced' blend of fact and color in my future reports.

Posted by Christopher 12/01/2010 at 12:36 PM

Sherlock-- Did you know that Ivanovic used to play in a swimming pool, Kimmie C. is a mom, and Rafa improved his serve? Oh yes, I think Serena yelled a lineswoman a year or so ago. Oh, and Sampras is cheap (and wouldn't give Andre money for meth). :)

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 12/01/2010 at 12:36 PM

beth! cincy? food? well, wrapped around a tennis tourney it was ok.

but the tennis? the facility? the ease of to and fro? the seats! omg. doesn't get any better than cincy. 'tis true. and they have REALLY good icecream. to die for ice cream in fact.

and the people running the tourney? just lovely to deal with; they gave fran and beatrice (from IW and lovely themselves) a run for their money!

sigh. i loved cincy. all those reports about how fabulous it is were apparently, all true. :)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/01/2010 at 12:37 PM

*waves to ActionFlunky*

although I have no idea what you're talking about. :)

Posted by Sherlock 12/01/2010 at 12:38 PM

Beth, that was a great rant. :) I do really like the Ducks, just the Beavers more. If the Ducks make it, I'll be rooting very hard for them to beat Auburn. Or TCU. Or Flunky's Badgers. :)

Who, btw, might be the best team around right now. Too bad about that loss to Sparty early in the year, or the BCS would be even more chaotic right now.

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 12/01/2010 at 12:40 PM

but thats just part of the perpetual gridlock issue sherlock, you simply never allow for these facts and dismiss them with a contradiction or opposing view ...

for the 1000th time its not rafa fans as much as the media who write this garbage, how many fans here need to post the proof? same with msf so often ... its really infuriating as a Fed fan to have every big win of late (Hamburg, madrid, London, frnakly even the last Shanghai match) tarnished by the media and fans and even Rafa, who backhandedly says 'you saw the match, you decide' kind of non-denial denial talk, if you cant understand that frustration, well, keep going ...

but Fed fans saying nothing only perpetuates a fatigue 'myth' that frankly is beneath a top tennis player to consistently hide behind

with that, this dead horse will be put to rest

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 12:46 PM

msf - I truly am intrigued and look forward to it!

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:48 PM

Andrew - nicely done. A happy blend of fact and color. ;-) Though someone is sure to pick a colorful thread and pull it to see if they can unravel the whole thing. But I enjoyed it all muchly.

THIS Fed fan is quite enthused about where Roger is game-wise at the moment. I may be a cock-eyed optimist who is also wearing rose colored glasses, but to me, I see Roger's game back where it was in 2007. Now, before I get flamed for that, I hasten to add that I do NOT think that means Roger will be able to dominate the way he did back in his hey day. Partly due to his age...simply seems more difficult to find the day in day out, tournament in tournament out consistency that marked his mid 20s. But mostly, because all the other top players on the tour have raised the level of their a certain extent to keep up with Roger. The clearest demonstration of this I can think of is in some of the shots that used to be Federer Fun House shots only that are now de rigeur for half the tour. The half volley pick up off the baseline, hit with control...used to be only Aggassi had that shot and only once in a while..then Fed could hit it, pretty much at will. Now, nearly everyone has that shot. Same thing for hitting a clean shot off a ball that is actually behind you...even off the BH wing. First Fed, now everyone who is anyone.

So, with everyone else getting better, Fed getting back to 2007 levels doesn't mean he will win as much as he did then. What is DOES mean, it that we get to see more TMF tennis, the kind we saw quite a bit of post USO... and the possibility of THAT alone, make me quite happy.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:49 PM

Also, I heard that Mardy Fish lost some weight.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:50 PM

JB - Graetners Ice cream? Yum!

Posted by Arun 12/01/2010 at 12:51 PM

Hey ActionFlunky! Been a long time.. Did you watch WTF? ;) vintage HC Fed.

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 12:52 PM

Great 2010 recap Andrew. If not for the post-USO phase, I'd have been looking ahead to 2011 with dread, but now there is renewed optimism for me that Fed may yet treat me and his gizillion fans to many instances of TMF tennis

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 12:53 PM

TMFunk - great minds, etc. But you were more concise. WAY more. lol.

Posted by TMFunk 12/01/2010 at 12:53 PM

CL - I swear I did not read your post before I posted...great minds and all that, especially your last paragraph!

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