Sunday, July 4, 2010

Surprise, Surprise II: Electric Boogaloo

Once Roger was out, it was always going to be Rafa who won the tournament.

What's kind of odd about the Slams this year is that even though it feels like there's a great deal of change going on and suchlike, it's still the same guys who are winning. The scorecard this year so far stands at Nadal 2, Federer 1, everyone else 0. Considering what has been going on in past years, this is relatively normal. Things aren't quite as changing of the guard as everyone seems to think they are.

But let's talk about the match some. I think Rafa was perfectly prepared to play Berdych because he'd played Soderling earlier in the week, and they both play similarly. (And, additionally, Rafa is not the biggest fan of either dude.) He had his game plan just about perfect - did he execute some crazy shots or what? - and his game face on. Rafa was in the zone. As soon as he walked out on the court, it felt like he was going to win. That aura is part of Rafa's power, I think.

Berdych didn't play a bad match, though he certainly didn't bring to the court what he did against Federer and Djokovic. He can be very proud of this week, though I'm sure he'll be a little disappointed in the final. I was a little disappointed in the final - it felt like he could have done better if he wasn't quite so nervous. But this said - he started off great and he had his chances, he just didn't really take them.

It has to be said, though - compared to previous years' finals, this one was a bit rubbish. We've been spoiled in the last few years with the epic five setters - the Federer/Nadal juggernauts of '07-'08 and then the massive Federer/Roddick epic last year. This match could have been an epic - I don't think it was just the absence of Federer that made this match a bit blergh - but it was the absence of a seasoned Slam contender. Roddick might not have won more than one Slam, but he's been to the place before. It was painfully obvious that while Rafa was at home, Tomas was still feeling things out.

There is definitely something exciting about the first time Slam finalist. It's part of what made the Australian Open so exciting in '06 through '08 - the unknown quantity. But it somehow feels a little weird at Wimbledon. Maybe it's because Wimbledon is so steeped in tradition and history that there is a certain rightness about the seasoned professionals playing there. That sounds wanky because it is. But the fact remained that this year's final was not one for the record books, not one that people are going to remember till the end of time. I don't think that was necessarily the fault of the final itself... but rather the fault of the excellent, excellent finals that came before.

But enough of this. Congratulations, Rafa. You keep vamosing your way into the history books.

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