The year is over. And from my perspective - and the perspective of all Federfans everywhere - it has ended on the best possible note.
I'm going to talk about the significance of the fact that we had Federer and Nadal in the final final of the year another day, but for today, let's just focus on the match. Three sets. It would have been disappointing if it had been anything less (although who would have thought so in the midst of the frazzle fits!) The most fitting way to cap off tennis for 2010.
We haven't seen Federer play as well as he has this tournament for a long, long time. Certainly not this year, I think. He had an excellent game plan and he executed it wonderfully. And the most telling stat, I think, is this - 100% of break points converted. I - among many, many others - have bemoaned his pitiful conversion rate all year. And now, on a huge stage, against the biggest of opponents, we have this, this proof that yes, Roger Federer's head really is in the game.
Federer's form was probably the better coming into the match - he's had a crazy time of it in the latter half of the year - but picking Nadal was so easy here. He's had a fantastic year. He didn't lose a match in the tournament. He gritted it out against Murray. He has a mind of steel. He's been a huge problem for Federer before. He's the #1 player, and there is a reason for that. He is Rafa Nadal, and he is the ultimate test.
Picking him was so easy. But one person didn't. And that person is Roger Federer. Federer backed himself, backed his gameplan, backed his game, and he came up trumps.
This year has been a year of Rafa. There is no doubting that. And congratulations to him. I love the guy, and I'm looking forward to seeing him win a lot more in the future. But this win, this victory, this match... this is a very, very stern reminder. I'm Roger Federer. I'm here. I'm the greatest player that has ever lived. I'm always a threat. And there is no universe in which you should ever, ever count me out.
I didn't actually see either of the matches today either, but I feel like I should say something meaningful. We are, after all, having our first really big Fedal final in quite some time!
The two semis could not have been in greater contrast. Federer had a pretty easy time against Djokovic - seriously, he has had the hammer down on Novak ever since the US Open. Is that three times he's tagged him now? I think that it is. I can't make personal comments, obviously, due to the whole not-seeing-the-match, but it seems like the general consensus was 'masterclass'. Which fills me with joy. I just hope he can keep it up.
Rafa and Muzz, on the other hand, had an epic struggle. I'm glad Rafa came through - seriously, a Fedal final? mouthwatering - but I think Murray has a lot to be proud of here. That one match with Federer aside, he actually played really well this tournament. He's earned back his #4 spot and if that tiebreaker had gone the other way, he would have taken #3, which really would have been something.
This was a big, big struggle, but I really don't think it will figure too heavily tomorrow with Rafa. We all remember the Great Verdasco Semi Final of 2009, which he then backed up with a five set victory for the title. It's pretty much impossible to pick the final tomorrow. There are strong cases to be made for both Rafa and Roger as titleist. But we can say this - no matter who wins tomorrow, they will be a very worthy champion who deserves it big time. This is the best possible final we could have.
So, if the reports of the match I'm reading are true, the scoreline was closer than it actually was. Roger Federer over Robin Soderling, 7-6 6-3. It looks like a tight one, but I get the feeling it wasn't, really. Not with the way people are writing about it.
Of course, if I'd actually seen it I could judge for myself... but I'm going to settle with 'wow, this is an excellent result, about which I am very glad!' He got a hawkeye call right. A HAWKEYE CALL, the thing at which he is the worst in the world. When he's getting those in, you know something is going right.
I am, however, very disappointed that Soderling did not qualify. If only he had got off to a better start with that Murray match... that was the match that decided qualification, really. Much as David Ferrer is a solid player, it wasn't hard to pick that he was going to go 0 and 3 in this group with these players. And with Federer playing lightyears better than anyone else in the group right now... it was all down to that first match on that first day. And Soderling was the one that stumbled, even though you would definitely argue that he had better form coming in.
Oh well. Alas, poor Robin. He goes back to #5 in the world now (I think?) but I'm sure he'll be making another charge soon enough. He doesn't have any points to defend at the Australian Open, after all...
But we should spend some time talking about Andy Murray, who, to his credit, pulled out a solid win over David Ferrer today after his spectacularly disappointing performance against Federer. Ferrer... well, to say that he didn't really turn up would be fair, I think, but let this take nothing away from Toothface, who kept his foot on the accelerator and raced away to a quick straight sets win.
However. If he plays at this level against Nadal, whom I assume he will play in the semis (given that Nadal is in poll position to qualify in top position in that group), Rafa will strike him down like the hand of God. If Muzz wants to be in the final, he's really going to have to step it up.
I think I was totally right about the match with Roddick being just what Rafa needed to blow out the cobwebs. He wasn't at his mighty best today, but he was pretty solid - it was definitely Rafa, not Shmafa - but the fact of the matter is that he didn't need to be at his mighty best, considering his opponent.
Seriously, will the medical woes of Novak Djokovic never cease?
Look, I don't doubt that he suffers from them, and the contact lens incident today was definitely a major medical malfunction. But every time he does this, it takes value away from the times he really does need assistance (like today). If the contact lens incident had happened to another player, one who doesn't take as many time outs, then it would be a Big Thing. But with Novak, it's just him being Novak. He's the player who cried sick. He has bird flu, SARS, common cough and cold... (thanks Andy).
This rant probably isn't as relevant today as it is when he pulls one of those other medical excuses. But yeah, Novak. This - times like today - is when you need your medical assistance. This is when it's serious. When you literally CANNOT SEE.
I actually didn't intend to turn this into a Djokovic-always-has-medical-issues rant. But you got one, so... um... yeah.
Rafa played well today. I'd put money on him beating Berdych in the next round. I do not think it is hard to say that yes, he will be going through.
But he won't be accompanied by Roddick, which was what I thought. No, he got his arse handed to him by Berdych today, which was... um, surprising. This is the problem with Berdych - it's what makes him so dangerous sometimes, I think. Even when he's totally out of form and you count him out, sometimes he can pull a random blinder out of his pocket. But twice in a row? I really don't see him doing it against Rafa.
We could be in a very interesting situation for qualification in this group if Rafa and Roddick win in the next round. Rafa will go through with three wins, but everyone else will have won one and lost two. I guess it will come down to games. Maybe I could be right. Maybe Roddick will go through after all.
I see rainbows. And sparkles. And unicorns. And sunshine. And all good things. Because we saw some old school Federer Express Ultimate God Tennis (tm) today.
I know Murray wasn't at his best, but you know what? Federer wouldn't LET him be at his best. He totally embarrassed Murray out there today. It was a clinic. It was a schooling. It was a two-hoof beatdown. It was exactly what I wanted to see from him, and exactly the kind of tennis he should be playing to end the year with confidence.
It was both what he wanted and what he needed. And if he continues along this merry orgasmic-tennis-playing way, he is going to strike fear into the hearts of everyone else for 2011. Big time.
Basically, I thought it was the best thing ever. Yep. More of that, please. I love it. And I know a good close tennis match can be a frazzly wonderment of entertainment, but when it's you, Roger, give me my beatdowns. Give me the Australian Open 2007 semis. Give me the Federer Express. Give me rainbows.
Oh, and Robin Soderling beat David Ferrer, thus keeping his hopes open for qualification. While I do want him to qualify, I don't want him to beat Roger... I'm not sure if this is mathematically possible, but we'll see, we'll see!
This was definitely not the first round robin match Rafa Nadal was after. However, I think it might have been just the one he needed.
Let's recap. Rafa hasn't played for about five weeks. Presumably he is carrying some kind of minor injury - he didn't play Paris, for one, and he always seems to be carrying an injury, also - and then... oh yeah. Five weeks. Rust city central. And he's playing Andy Roddick, to whom he has been a little vulnerable on hard courts in the past.
...oh, and he's just lost the first set. And it's a tiebreaker. And if he loses it, he loses the match.
A good solid three set slog, with the employment of some of his trademark iron mental toughness, sounds like just what the doctor ordered to me. Get the cobwebs out. Dust off the grit. Fight your way back from a bad position against a tough opponent and play your way into form. And you could see Rafa doing just that over the course of the match. He let that break go a little tamely in the first set and couldn't break Roddick's serve again. So he hung in there, gritted his teeth, and didn't let go. I'm sure he'd have preferred an easy win, but in the long run, I think this was just what he needed.
It was not, however, what Andy Roddick needed. I still think he has a good shot at qualifying for the semis, but he has to make sure he doesn't let this woulda shoulda coulda of a match get him down. He can definitely beat Berdych - he went down super easily today - and I'm reasonably confident he can also beat Djokovic. He's just got to hang tough, mental wise. And today wouldn't have helped. But he can do it.
As a Federfan, I could not have asked for a better start to the World Tour Finals for my guy. He was pretty much awesome today. It wasn't quite Ultimate God Tennis, but it was... about Batman level. Sure, he was only playing Ferrer - 'only' Ferrer, like any guy at the WTF can be 'only' - but he didn't give into his tendency to let his bunnies get away with a win and he put the hammer down where it was necessary. Nice one.
Ferrer did not play so well. I guess he'll just have to be happy to be nominated.
So, as a Federfan, I am happy with the Roger side of things. However, I really, really had my money on Soderling to take down Murray, and I was sorely disappointed. Not only was it a loss, but it was a pretty easy loss too. Murray had a gameplan which he executed beautifully. Soderling never once looked like he had an answer.
This win will give Murray a confidence boost that I don't think any of the other guys will be too keen on him having. To beat Soderling, who has so recently passed him in the rankings, has to be pretty sweet for him. He'll feel like he's asserted his authority and staked his claim to that #4 spot (remember when Murray was #2? that was weird) and it could give him a loooooot of confidence going forward.
You pretty much have to see Murray going forward out of this group now, unless Soderling pulls two absolute blinders out of his hat and beats both Ferrer (quite likely) and Federer (maybe not quite so likely). That makes me a bit sad, because I really wanted the Roger/Robin duo to go forward. But then this isn't about me... much as I might like to think it is!
Oh, and the calendar has been shortened for 2012. Sort of. That will give me a little something to talk about in the off-season coming up...
So there's a big to do in the tennis world about the annual ATP awards and the clash between Roger and Rafa fans and whatnot. Roger won the Fan Favourite, Rafa won the Sportsmanship award, and for some reason, everyone thinks this is some kind of scandalous big deal.
Um, whatevs, dudes. They both deserve their awards - and you could make a case that they each deserve the others' award, and pretty much any case you want. They're both awesome. Chill out.
What I want to talk about is another report, and how incredibly right I am.
Most Improved Player: Andrey Golubev. OH YES.
Who told you? Who has been talking about the awesomeness of Golubev since January - since the Hopman Cup, in fact? Oh yes, that would be me, your tennis prophet. Bow down and worship me, kids. Bow down.
Oh yeah, and worship Andrey too. Because he is awesome and like, deserves his award and stuff. But he couldn't help his awesomeness. I PREDICTED IT. YOU READ IT HERE FIRST. OH YEAH.
Oh, and newcomer of the year was Tobias Kamke. I... don't really remember him. But then, to be fair, I don't remember any real newcomers. So maybe he was the newcomeriest. And stuff.
And you know who really deserved their award? The Indo-Pak express. Rock on, dudes. You are made of 100% pure excellence.
Today we are going to talk about two relatively little things that I find mildly interesting. (Wow, this sounds like a very engaging blog post! You are such an interesting writer, Jodi!)
1) When asked what his most heartbreaking loss this year was, Roger Federer answered with 'losing the Halle final to Lleyton Hewitt.' Wow, dude, you, like, really love Halle. Possibly more than Wimbledon? I know Halle is your tournament and you've said that you'll play there for ever and ever and ever, and yes, I did get a bit angry at you when you lost...
...but more heartbreaking than the F^&* THE WOOOOOOOOOORLD!!!!!!1! moment we all went through with the Berdych match at Wimbledon? Or even the Soderling match at Roland Garros? Or Djokovic at the US Open, with the match points? I do not think so.
2) Dinara Safina is playing Hobart next year. Now, we all know that Hobart is the Mickey Mousiest of the all the Mickey Mouse tournaments, but I don't think this is necessarily a bad move for Dinara. If she can get some wins in here, she might get a bit of confidence back. And certainly match play.
If she loses early, however... the inverse will be true. Times a thousand.
It's been a long time coming... and to tell the truth I thought it had happened already. But it's still a thing.
Carlos Moya has retired. Farewell, Charly.
Ah, Carlos Moya. The love rat of the ATP tour. The Yoda to a once upon a time young Padawan Rafael Nadal. The dude that thought it would be awesome to cheat on Flavia Pennetta (seriously, Carlos?) The dude that was one of the ATP pin ups and who was actually more surprisingly successful than you might think.
One of the first ATP matches I ever remember really watching featured Carlos Moya. It was at the Australian Open in 2001, it went five sets, and Moya beat Hewitt. I didn't know enough about tennis at that stage not to automatically go for the Australian, so I was cheering against Moya, but damn, that was an entertaining match. I will never forget it.
Moya was around so long that I think a lot of us have actually forgotten how incredibly successful he was in the late 90s. He was a multiple Slam finalist and he was also a Slam winner (Roland Garros '98, I do believe) and he was ranked #1 in the world. He was up there with the best of his generation - the Kuertens and Rafters and Agassis and Samprases of the world - and he came off pretty all right, when it all comes down to it.
He obviously continued a lot longer than those guys (maybe Agassi is comparable, but in general). Was this a good idea? I'd say he probably could have gone a little sooner. But let's not forget that it's only been a couple of years since Moya was beating his protege Nadal. And that is no mean feat.
Also, thanks for retiring so I had something to write about today.
Groups! We have groups! That should give me something to talk about today! Yay!
The general consensus seems to be agree that Nadal's group is a hell of a lot easier than Federer's, and I would tend to agree. However, Rafa hasn't played that much since the US Open, so while he might be fresh, he might also be rusty, so that could even them out quite well.
But let us analyse.
Team Rafa: We have Rafa himself, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick.
Team Roger: The Fed Express, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling and David Ferrer.
Let's start with Team Rafa. I'm definitely seeing Berdych going zero and three in this group. No matter what group he was in, I think I would see this coming, because he has been playing stupendously badly. I'm actually thinking that Andy Roddick might stand a really excellent chance at winning this group. He's got the hard court prowess to take any of these guys, except perhaps Rafa on an awesome day. He'll definitely beat Berdych, probably Djokovic, and I think he stands a good shot at beating Rafa.
I see Rafa finishing second and qualifying, but Djokovic is really the dark horse for me in this group. It seems strange to say that about the world number #3, but there it is. He's combined some excellent play with some awful play recently and it depends which way he goes. Whoever wins the Rafa-Nole matchup is going through, in my book. And I am pretty sure that will be Rafa, unless he gets all injured or something.
Over to Team Roger now, and this group really doesn't have an obvious 'I'm losing every match' dude like Berdych in the other group. If you had to pick one, you might pick Ferrer, but he has been playing very, very well lately, and I wouldn't count him out.
I think Soderling and Federer both stand excellent chances at winning this group, and those are the two I'd put my money on to qualify. However, they can both be prone to sketchiness and both had long weeks in Paris... but yeah, I don't think that'll really affect them. Soderling is The Form Player coming in, and Roger - well, I wouldn't really be counting him out.
Murray is in a similar position to Djokovic in this group - he could dark horse his way into qualifying if he beats one of Soderling and Federer. I don't really have a read on his performance at the moment, though - will the home crowd gee him up or tear him down? He's been affected by it at Wimbledon, but as this tournament isn't quite such a big deal, maybe he can turn it to his advantage here...?
After the rage of yesterday, the storm has passed, and I have found myself very satisfied with the outcome in Bercy. Not the Federer part, obviously - you are still in very big trouble, mister - but the Soderling victory? I am all over that like a rug.
Monfils really demonstrated in this match that he's not going to be a major force any time soon - oh sure, he'll pull some big wins, like he did yesterday, but he's missing the magic ingredient, which is consistency. Against the Swedish barrage yesterday, he panicked, rushed and crumbled. He admitted as much in his post match presser.
I mean, I can understand why he was nervous - he was playing in the biggest final of his career in front of his home crowd! - but he really needs to get a handle on his fragile mentality before he's going to challenge for these matches regularly. And much as I think they're stupid, maybe he should have indulged his stuntman theatrics a bit more. They seem to fire him up... but maybe that would have just made him more jittery. I don't know. But anyway, that is the aspect of his game that is lacking.
But this was an awesome victory for Soderling. Let's talk about how awesome he is for a mo, because he is really VERY awesome. I can't believe this is his first Masters win, but I am SO glad he has one now. It is the perfect way to cap off what has been an awesome year - and, in fact, two years - for him. He is really proving that he's not just a Roland Garros wonder - he is a force to be reckoned with ALL THE TIME. But especially in Paris. He sets that damn town ON FIRE.
And now he's #4 in the world. I love it. Take that, Toothface.
Lord have mercy (heh, Bercy) on you, Mr Federer, if I catch you any time soon. Oh suuuuuuure, I know I said (or at least thought) that I didn't mind if you lost here so you could have more time to prepare in London. But you know what?
And you know what else?
When I said that I didn't mind if you lost, I didn't mean that I wouldn't mind if you lost in three sets after having a break in the third set and FIVE F%^&ING MATCH POINTS. After I have been saying such nice things about you! Saying that you were playing good tennis! Saying that you might have a real shot at winning the WTF!
If you do not play well at the WTF, Roger, I will - I will -
- I will still love you, because you are my favourite ever, but I will be CROSS, Roger. I will be very cross. We are always hardest on the ones we love, and I will come down on you like a rather large pile of BRICKS.
If you must lose a match, do it in a way that doesn't break my heart, okay? And stop legitimising Monfils's dramatics by losing to him. They're annoying and you are BETTER THAN THAT.
Wow. Roger Federer, where have you been this year? This is a weird time of the year to start playing Ultimate God Tennis. Not complaining! Please keep it up!
It's sort of simultaneously hard and easy to believe that Federer's never made the semis of Paris. Easy, because this is not the most strategically important part of the year to be playing well. Hard, because he is playing SO well right now. And you know what? It would be really nice to cap off the year with a Masters title. Even better if he could cap it off with a good showing at the WTF.
He played SO well against Melzer today. He's had to play Melzer about a billion times this year after never having met him before, and it has not been a happy head to head for Jurgen, let us just say that much. Did you know that this is the most amount of aces he has ever served in a three set match? When that serve is going well, you know Federer's feeling good. You know that he doesn't have the back pain and that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
So. Yeah. I'm excited about what the fading twilight of 2010 can offer Roger. Or, rather, what he can offer us!
Andy Murray lost today, in a very interesting match against Gael Monfils. I'm in two minds about the strategic importance of this. On one side, he really didn't show much form. On the other, he now has more rest before the O2, which is bad from a Federfan point of view. But oh well. Whatever. Roger is still my favourite.
The other two semi finalists are Llodra and Soderling - Llodra is totally having an awesome tournament! That said, I don't see him beating Robin, so we might be in for a very interesting final here. I would be very interested to see a Federer-Soderling final, assuming Roger comes through Monfils. It could be a very interesting prelude to the WTF!
The line up is set for the World Tour Finals. The lucky three to get through are Roddick, Ferrer and Berdych. I wish Melzer had made it through instead of Berdych, but as was pointed out to me yesterday by reader Yolita (thanks!), this was in fact mathematically impossible. Pretty sure the only way we get Melzer now is if one of the Elite Eight shuts down for the year, and I don't want that to happen.
This qualification happened because Monfils beat Verdasco, who I am very glad did not qualify - he really didn't deserve it. Berdych lost to Davydenko (bit sad he wasn't in contention, but then, he didn't really do anything to deserve it, apart from having a cracker start to the year) but is still through, and Melzer came through to face Federer in the quarters, but is not through. Oh, and Llodra beat Djokovic.
The way he's playing at the moment, Berdych is going to be easy pickings for the other dudes at the WTF, and - I don't want to jinx it, especially because he made the finals of Basel last week, but nonetheless - I have a sneaking suspicion we might see Djokovic go 0 and 3 as well. Unless, of course, Berdych and Djokovic are in the same group, in which case Novak's getting at least one win. Djokovic's results have actually not been that bad of late, Llodra-loss today aside, but I am just spectacularly unconvinced by his play. Maybe it's just because he's been tagged twice by Federer since the US Open and I'm biased, but he feels a little lackadaisical to me at the mo.
But he ain't got nothing on Berdych.
Also, I think we have to give a big shout out to Andy Roddick, forever the forgotten quantity of the top ten. His longevity gets overlooked because of the longevity of his peer Federer - understandable, due to their comparative success rates - but qualifying for the WTF eight times in a row? Dude, that is super. Well done, A-Rod. You keep on keeping on. And who knows? If you end up in a group with Berdych and Djokovic (or even if you don't), you might find yourself in the semis or even in the final of the WTF. I would be a little surprised if it happened, but not a lot surprised. And when your field contains the like of Nadal, Federer, Murray, Soderling and, yes, Djokovic, that is saying something.
Bercy! The forgotten Masters. The one that no one who is anyone really cares about because the World Tour Finals are in, like, two seconds... except the people that are trying to qualify for the finals, because hello, points, who are thus wearing themselves out before these finals even happen.
Sorry for that Sentence of Doom.
But seriously, here we are in Bercy, one of the stupidest placed tournaments on the calendar in term of care factor - dudes, I know that you want to finish the year with a bang for the non-WTFers, but you make it very hard for anyone to care about you - and we have a bunch of guys who are after the remaining three spots. The front runners, the way I see it, are David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jurgen Melzer and Andy Roddick. One is going to miss out, of course, but it has to be out of those four. I think. Maybe Fernando Verdasco is in there. But with his epic losingness, I don't think he's going to be in there.
I'm really hoping Berdych is the one who misses out, because a) I don't like him very much and b) apart from Wimbledon, what has he really done? But I think he's up there in points... oh, I don't know. I don't understand their crazy maths.
I do understand, however, that Jurgen Melzer and David Ferrer have helped their chances by winning - a skin of the teeth thing for Ferrer, but a win nonetheless! Match of the day, though, has to go to Murray and Nalbandian. You had him, Daveed! You so could have kicked his arse if you'd just kept your level up! But maybe you did me and the Fedfans of the world a favour by losing... we don't want Murray all fresh for the WTF, do we?
So, Bali. In all this Federer winning a title excitement, I pretty much totally forgot about you. And as you are the last women's event of the year, probably I should write about you.
I'm not quite sure what the point of you is. Are you like the year ending championships for woulda shoulda coulda players? If you are, why do you happen? Why do woulda shoulda couldas get their own year ending championship? What is your rationale for selecting players? Please, Bali, enlighten me, because I do not understand you.
And then you were won by the perenially underwhelming Ana Ivanovic, who has managed to scrape her way back to #17 in the world, and I just can't be too happy about that. I'm not an Ana hater, but then I'm not a Ana fan either... but both of these things are irrelevant. Fact of the matter is that Ivanovic should never have slid so far down the rankings that winning Bali was even a thing.
But that ship sailed a long time ago.
Like Ana Ivanovic and her victory and her certain seeding at the Australian Open, I am just not sure how to feel about Bali. It is an anomaly of a tournament and I don't quite know what the point of it is. Weird.
On from the excellent news of yesterday to the rather more melancholy news of today - not sad, I think, but heading in that general direction. Taylor Dent has retired from professional tennis.
In reality, Taylor Dent was someone that never was. He was like a slightly more actualised version of Joachim Johansson - he had all the talent, but injury and whatnot stood in the way of him making good on it. I remember back in Australia 2006, where he was the 27th seed, people were tipping him to make the semis and all kinds of crazy things. Taylor never even came close.
But despite all his woes and despite the fact he never made it to the upper echelons of the game, Taylor did represent something important in the world of men's tennis, and that is something which is, I think, definitely going to be missed. That thing is serve-and-volley. Dent was probably one of the last - if not the last - true serve-and-volley player out there. I mean, he wasn't exactly Pat Rafter, but he was all that we had left on that front. Of course there are players who can and do serve-and-volley, but Dent was the last of the true breed, I think. And that will be missed.
And then there's the fact that the Dent story in and of itself is pretty amazing - didn't he spend more than six months in a full body cast at some stage? He was definitely out for a really long time and then made a pretty shiny comeback, which is awesome. But he has a new(ish) baby and a life and he's never going to make the big BIG leagues now, though he might have continued to enjoy some minor success. I understand why he's retired. But it's kind of sad to think that the Last of the S&Vers has departed the court.
This is very immature of me, so humour me for a minute:
SUCK IT, NOVAK DJOKOVIC! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
I know that, as far as 2010 goes, the victory will be seen to be Djokovic's over Federer, because, like, US Open and stuff, but it makes me so happy that Federer has managed to tag Djokovic twice since, and in pretty sweet fashion too. And at Basel, which is not only Federer's home tournament but had Djokovic as defending champ... ohhhhhh yeah.
There's nothing too much I can say about this win except that Roger played great for most of the time, made more of his opportunities than he has in some other matches, and played an absolute cracker of a third set. After Djokovic equalised you weren't quite sure which way that was going to go, but Roger absolutely put the hammer down, and it was totally satisfying.
And he fed the ballboys pizza. And his twins were there. And it was just lovely.
I won't subject you to any more of my celebrating - gush quietly among yourselves. And, oh yeah, HOPP SUISSE! GO ROGER! FEDERER IS BETTERER!
So, as suspected, That Wimbledon Final The Sequel turned out to be no big deal. Despite getting broken (and, indeed, facing his first break points) of the tournament, Federer cruised to an easy win in this one. I suppose you could say that it's proof that he really did break Roddick in That Wimbledon Final, but when the record stands at 19-2 I think you have a little more history than one match to back it up.
Anyway. Djokovic beat Troicki (who, once again, proved his complete inability to win anything after failing to close out a set after being 40-0 and three set points up) and so he will face Federer in the final. Now this could be an interesting match. Djokovic will want to retain his title, Federer will want some revenge - and the shades of the US Open are still hanging over them. I don't know how significant it will be in the greater scheme of things, but in the world leading up to the World Tour Finals, I think it will be very interesting indeed.
Speaking of the WTF, apparently David Ferrer is in qualifying contention. Um, really? He's having a gun of a tournament in Valencia at the moment, but I seriously cannot point to one major result he has had all year. This may not necessarily be his fault - I guess it's proof that the Big Four (plus maybe Soderling) tend to skew proceedings - but I seriously would not have picked Ferru as a contender. Hope he does well in Valencia, though. That would be an awesome result for him, and I do have a bit of a soft spot for him in my heart.
And oh yeah, Bali - aka the tournament I completely forgot was happening. Apparently Ana Ivanovic is in the final. What's up with that? Since when has Ana been in the final of anything? I mean, good on her and stuff, but I read that someone is now putting her on their list of major contenders for the Australian Open. I think I speak for a whole lot of people when I say HELL NO.
Here is one thing that I did not realise - the semi final match up of Federer and Roddick tomorrow will be the first time they have met since That Wimbledon Final. I could have sworn that they had played since, but since I can't put my finger on when it was nor find any record of such a match, I have to believe it.
It could have been a very significant match, if it took place a little closer to That Wimbledon Final. As it is, I don't think it will mean that much - certainly not to Federer, though he will obviously want to win very badly, because it is his home tournament and all. And as for Roddick? If he wins, it will be a big thing, but if he loses, it will be just another loss to the man that has beaten him nineteen times already. If it had been closer to That Wimbledon Final, then it would have been the cherry of torment on the top of his sundae of despair. But now... not so much.
It's been a good week for both men so far, and if Roddick loses now, it will still have been a good week. He had a good win over Querrey and an even better win over Nalbandian, and considering that he really hasn't had a great time of it since That Wimbledon Final, semis in Basel is a good result for him. It'll give him some valuable points towards a possible qualification for the world tour final (even more likely now that there is a bit of question mark over Rafa, who has just withdrawn from Bercy) and a bit of confidence. If he loses to Roger, well - there's no shame in that.
Roger, however, has been playing like a ninja all week and I imagine that he will really want to win this, particularly after he lost in the final to Djokovic last year. Though it won't crush him if he loses, it will be very disappointing for the tournament, and he won't want that. This is one of those rare occasions when he sort of needs the win more than his opponent.
So it's going to be an interesting match. I'm backing Roger (surprise, surprise) but I really don't think that the memory of That Wimbledon Final will help him too much. It's been too long and too much has happened and it's taken its toll on Roddick already. But you never know...
Oh, Marin Cilic. You started the year so mightily. And the truth is, that single semi final appearance in Australia was nearly enough to send you in the world tour finals.
But no. And that is how it should be, really - that semi final did not make a year.
Mighty Marin (or not-so-mighty, as he is at the moment) was knocked out of finals contention (and, indeed, the tournament) by David Nalbandian. I mean, sure, David is a pretty tough second round draw, but it was a really tame loss. It wasn't pretty. And much as I applaud this Nalbandian comeback (because Tennis Needs Nalbandian) I wish that Cilic had put up more of a fight. I wish he'd made a match of it.
I don't know what Cilic's problem is - whether he's been injured for a bazillion years or he has mono like everyone else or what - but if I'm him, I'm wrapping up my year now. I'm taking some extra time for R&R and getting myself back on track. He has a bucketload of points to defend in Australia and he will plummet down the rankings like a big rock if he doesn't make at least the quarters (I would imagine - I'm guessing). So he needs to go sort himself out.
His loss, however, has set up a tantalising clash between Nalbandian and Roddick. I can almost forgive Roddick for beating my beloved Andrey Golubev, so intriguing is this match. Roddick is also in finals contention (though I really can't put my finger on anything he's won this year... maybe the memory of Wimbledon last year is still overshadowing everything else in my mind) and Nalbandian is hungry for points. And this is his favourite surface. Should be an absolute screamer!
Wow. Tomas Berdych. I know you've been disappointing ever since your run to the final of Wimbledon, but I couldn't have realised this level of disappointment.
I've sort of vaguely maybe heard of Tobias Kamke, but I couldn't tell you one thing about him. And yet he put an absolute beatdown on Berdych. I didn't see the match, so I don't know if it was closer than the scoreline or whatever, but dude, DUDE. 6-4 6-1? That is craziness.
Berdych is in the running to claim one of the last three spots for the world tour finals, and this must have hurt his chances big time. Well, at least medium time. Time is running out and he's not the only one after a spot.
...though considering one of the other people after a spot is Fernando Verdasco, who also took an utterly miserable loss, maybe Berdych doesn't need to try so hard. I know Gilles Simon is having some of Awesomeness Renaissance, but 6-1 6-3, Nando? Yowza.
Speaking of miserable losses in Valencia - oh hiiiiiiiiiiiiii, Andy Murray. I know you've already made the WTF so you don't need to try so hard, but dude, come on, Juan Monaco? Really?
But you know who's not disappointing? Roger Federer. That was a nice win over Tipsarevic. It maketh me smile. And also Robin Haase! He beat John Isner. You keep on with your bad self, Robin.
I'm never quite sure what this weird Bali tournament the week after Doha is for the women - like, you didn't get into the year ending championships, so nice try, you can be the postscript? - but whatever, I'll roll with it. There's usually some reasonably interesting matches going on there... and it would be hard to be less interesting than Doha turned out to be. Looking forward to watching it, in any case.
Now, over to the dudes.
Daveeeeeeeeed! You are back! You are beating some twobit journeymen again! I had almost totally forgotten you existed! Remember when you were all up there in the favourites for the US Open and then you somehow disappeared off the face of the earth? me too! No more of that! You are a fun guy to watch! You keep on with your badass Jan Hajek-beating self!
...I apologise for all that unnecessary exclamation.
Seriously, though, I had totally forgotten about Nalbandian. I had no idea he was playing in Basel and I'm glad he is. He's been conspicuously absent for a while now and - well, not conspicuous, really. I forgot about him. But now I realise how much I subconsciously missed him.
I hope he has a good run this week - not a title winning run or anything, because, hello, Roger, but maybe a nice semi or something. That could be nice.
Oh, and Marin Cilic won a match. Seems like a long time since that last happened.
You know who hasn't been around for a while? Robin Haase, that Dutch dude. I think of this, of course, because he suddenly is around again, beating Stephane Bohli in Basel, and he's popped his head up a couple of times this year, but mostly... not so much with the being around.
He was one of those young guns a few years ago who was supposed to be heading big places - I remember him taking Lleyton Hewitt to five in the first round of Wimbledon in an awesome match. He reminds me a bit of Gulbis, but I think he just looks like him more than actually being like him.
Anyway. That's all I have to say about that. I hope we see a bit more of Haase playing. I remember really liking his game.
And we cannot talk about Basel without talking about the Basel guy himself, one R Federer. He spent less than an hour on court dismissing Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr and he was smoking. And then Dolgopolov retired one game away from the finish line, which I thought was pretty poor form - how hard is it to play one extra game and give your opponent the win proper? - but it was still all sunshine for Roger. Keep it coming.
...oh, and why is Stan Wawrinka playing in Valencia and not Basel? Are he and some Swiss tennis figure or organisation or something having a fight?