Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Under The Influence Of Gold

I had my day all planned out. I was working in the morning, but as soon as I finished, I was going to go to the gym and catch the last set or two of the Federer match on television, because they have Foxtel there and I don't - and also I would, like, get fit and stuff. So I get there, I'm walking along on my treadmill, and - they're shaking hands. I got there at the very instant of the Federer victory.
Much as I would have liked to watch him play, I couldn't help but smile. I love to watch Federer play - it's one of the numerous reasons he is far and away my favourite player - but sometimes seeing him walk off the court after a demolition job is just as satisfying. The Roger Federer bagel bakery is open for business.
I'm trying to be wary of being overconfident, because a similar thing happened in the first round of the Australian Open this year - Federer cruised past Diego Hartfield and Fabrice Santoro - only to run into a roadblock in the third round, and don't we all remember that five set classic against Janko Tipsarevic. But that was Federer under the influence of glandular fever. This is Federer under the influence of a gold medal, and I think the two are just a bit different. All indicators point to one thing: Roger is enjoying himself on court. He's experimenting, making stuff up. He's PLAYING tennis - he's playing. And when Roger Federer is enjoying himself - I mean, really enjoying himself - on court, then there's trouble. Then you get matches like the semi of the Australian Open in 2007. That was a Federer who had something to prove, and who, in the course of it, had a blast. They had to peel pieces of Andy Roddick off the court afterwards. There is no player more dangerous in tennis than the fun-having Federer.
I'm always criticising commentators and the like who over-hype players, and yes, I am aware that I am a giant hypocrite. But I'm just so excited about the way Federer is playing now. Has there even been a player more beautiful to watch than the Fed at the height of his powers? And his tennis is lethal as well as beautiful. He spent half the time that Rafa Nadal spent on court - half! Now, Rafa matches are nearly always longer than Roger ones, sometimes purely because he takes 900,000 years between points, but that is a significant statistic. There can be no doubt in anyone's mind that in the first round, Federer was the better player.
Not that the first round has much bearing on anything. They both got through, and that's all that matters. But I take my small victories where I can. And to quote that infamous Australian icon Kath Day-Knight, 'I like what I see!'
The quick end to the Roger match meant that instead of seeing that, I got to see some of the Dechy/Mauresmo match while treading the treadmill mile. It was clearly a tight match - I came in early in the third - but I was very impressed with what I saw from Mauresmo. She's never been one of my favourite players - her total lack of confidence in herself really annoys me - but she strung together some beautiful plays. She made, what, like twelve straight points to win the match? And Nathalie Dechy ain't no pushover. She's been around forever and she's really wily, with that backhand of death. That third set was interesting - Mauresmo broke to 3-0, Dechy broke Mauresmo to get it back to 3-2, and then Amelie just took off, and Nathalie didn't win another point in the match. And it wasn't Dechy making errors - it was Mauresmo making winners. Those last few points were beautiful, to say the least - and if she can keep that level of play up, she'll go deep. I was extremely impressed.
Rough day for the Australian contingent - Dellacqua and Stosur both crashed out - but how about Jessica Moore? She's about seven years old, (well... maybe eight, or nine, or sixteenish) and she beat another junior to make it to the second round. She may well be the only Aussie to make it to the second round, so more power to her, I say! Oh, and also power to the Safin(a) siblings, who both had wins!
Today's Results
US Open (Flushing Meadows)
Men's Draw
Roger Federer def. Maximo Gonzalez, 6-3 6-0 6-3
Marat Safin def. Vince Spadea, 3-6 6-2 6-3 4-6 6-4
Mardy Fish def. Robert Smeets, 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4
Tommy Haas def. Richard Gasquet, 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 5-7 7-5 6-2
Sam Querrey def. Tomas Berdych, 6-3 6-1 6-2
Tommy Robredo def. Mischa Zverev, 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-1
Yen-hsun Lu def. Nicolas Lapentti, 6-4 1-6 4-6 6-4 6-3
Bobby Reynolds def. Tomas Zib, 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4)
Ivo Karlovic def. Jan Minar, 7-5 6-1 6-4
Igor Andreev def. Marc Gicquel, 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 6-4
Florent Serra def. Rainer Schuettler, 7-6 (10-8) 6-0 2-0 retired
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez def. Dominik Hrbaty, 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4
Jarkko Nieminen def. Scoville Jenkins, 6-3 6-3 7-5
Thiago Alves def. Paul Capdeville, 46 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-2) 6-4
Nicolas Devilder def. Pablo Andujar, 6-4 6-2 6-2
Rui Machado def. Rik de Voest, 6-4 7-6 (9-7) 6-1
Jeremy Chardy def. Frederico Gil, 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-3
Paul-Henri Mathieu def. Sebastien Grosjean, 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-2
Flavio Cipolla def. Jan Hernych, 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-0) 7-6 (7-4)
Fernando Gonzalez def. Ivan Navarro, 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-5)
Andreas Seppi def. Hyung-taik Lee, 6-3 7-5 3-6 3-6 6-3
Ivo Minar def. Nicolas Kiefer, 4-6 6-1 6-4 4-1 retired
Fernando Verdasco def. Igor Kunitsyn, 6-3 6-4 6-1
Gilles Muller def. Laurent Recouderc, 6-4 6-0 4-6 6-4
Women's Draw
Ana Ivanovic def. Vera Dushevina, 6-1 4-6 6-4
Serena Williams def. Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-1 6-4
Venus Williams def. Samantha Stosur, 6-2 6-3
Amelie Mauresmo def. Nathalie Dechy, 4-6 6-3 6-2
Dinara Safina def. Kristie Ahn, 6-3 6-4
Anna-Lena Groenefeld def. Daniela Hantuchova, 6-4 6-2
Bethanie Mattek def. Marta Domachowska, 6-7 (7-9) 7-5 6-4
Nadia Petrova def. Olivia Sanchez, 6-2 6-4
Julie Coin def. Casey Dellacqua, 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4)
Severine Bremond def. Julia Goerges, 7-6 (7-0) 6-4
Yung-Jan Chan def. Alla Kudryavtseva, 4-6 7-5 6-3
Elena Vesnina def. Julia Vakulenko, 4-6 6-1 6-2
Agnes Szavay def. Gail Brodsky, 7-5 6-3
Dominika Cibulkova def. Jill Craybas, 6-3 7-6 (7-4)
Flavia Pennetta def. Stefanie Vogele, 2-6 6-2 6-2
Timea Bacsinszky def. Virginie Razzano, 6-4 6-1
Sabine Lisicki def. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 6-3 6-4
Kaia Kanepi def. Monica Niculescu, 6-0 6-3
Nicole Vaidisova def. Petra Cetkovska, 6-1 6-2
Mariana Dugue Marino def. Tamarine Tanasugarn, 0-6 6-3 6-2
Jessica Moore def. Melanie Oudin, 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5)
Shuai Peng def. Eleni Daniilidou, 6-1 6-0
Agnieszka Radwanska def. Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-4 6-2
Alona Bondarenko def. Jamea Jackson, 2-6 6-3 6-2
Alize Cornet def. Camille Pin, 7-5 6-0
Ai Sugiyama def. Andreja Klepac, 4-6 6-3 4-2 retired
Hsieh Su-wei def. Evgeniya Rodina, 6-2 6-4
Olga Govortsova def. Sandra Zahlavova, 6-3 6-1
Ioana Raluca Olaru def. Edina Gallovits, 6-0 6-2
Roberta Vinci def. Stephanie Cohen-Aloro, 6-1 6-4
Tathiana Garbin def. Maret Ani, 6-0 7-6 (7-5)
Rossana de los Rios def. Hana Sromova, 6-3 2-6 6-3

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