Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cupcakes For Breakfast

So I think we're all agreed. The top half of the Indian Wells draw is cancelled. We're just sending Rafa Nadal straight to the final, yesno?

Seriously, I'm not one of the people who sees conspiracy theories in draws, but if Rafa's draw was any cupcakier I would be eating it right now. It is freaking ridiculous. I've seen some fluke-y draws in my time, but this one is practically a work of art in its cupcakiness. And it's not like it necessarily started out that way, either - it's evolved into this high form of cupcake art. Give a monkey a pen and eventually it'll write Hamlet; give tennis players racquets and one day you'll be left with Rafa and some cakes.

Let's review. In fact, I've got a very special guest here on Tennis From Beyond The Baseline to review for you. Say hola to Rafa, guys!

...

Hello. Hola. I'm Rafa Nadal, and I'm ranked #1 in the world. I had a bit of a sad loss at the Australian Open, but I'm still ranked #1 and I'm all better from my injury, and I'm coming off a pretty excellent Davis Cup weekend. I'm pretty awesome. On my day, I can beat just about anyone. Actually, that is actually everyone, because I'm more than pretty awesome.

I get a bye in my first round, because, hello, awesome. And then in my second round, I get Rik de Voest. He's a qualifier. I know it can toughen people up, that qualifying draw, and I like my cupcakes all gooey and moist, so I decide to give him - oh, he retired. Oops. Who knew.

Meanwhile, while this is going on, the other seeds in my section are playing. Sorry, did I say playing? I meant losing. Out goes Monaco, out goes Baghdatis, out goes Tsonga, and the dude who beat me at the Australian Open, David Ferrer? Yeah, he's gone too. But it's all right. This cupcake still has some seeds in it. It's freaking multigrain. Simon! Almagro! Montanes! These dudes all have some mad skills, no?

Sorry, did you just ask what I'm ranked? #1, dude. And how many Slams do I have? That would be nine. How many other Slam winners are there in the entire top half of the draw? Well, Juan Martin del Potro won one, but he's over in the other side of the half. Murray's half. And Murray's been to three finals of Slams before - oh, Murray lost? To Donald Young?

You know I am a polite guy. I'm Rafa. But excuse me while I shriek WHAT THE F^&*?!

But you know, I am modest, and is basically impossible for me to win, no? These guys, they all play very good. Anyone is a danger. I'm playing Ryan Sweeting this round, and he got a whole FOUR GAMES off me at the Australian Open. In three sets. That is FOUR GAMES TOO MANY.

I am so disappointed. He got four games off me again, and this time in only TWO sets. My game must be slipping. Is basically impossible for me to win this cupcake-y half now, no? There are still some seeds left, remember - remember Montanes and Almagro and Simon?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN ONLY MONTANES IS LEFT WHAT IS THIS TOURNAMENT WHO IS BAKING THIS CUPCAKE FOR ME?!

But in the other side of this top half, it's still all going on. Murray might be gone, but Soderling is #4 now, and he's still there - oh. Hang on. So if I want to make the final, the highest seed I have to beat is... Verdasco?

Except no. Because he lost too. The highest ranked dude I could face now before the final is... drumroll... Sam Querrey. And is impossible for me to win that match, no? He's won three of eight matches this year and I'm only ranked #1. What more do you expect me to do?

Sorry guys, I have to say hasta manana now. I can smell cupcakes baking in the oven. And I have to play another qualifier soon.

...

...hi guys, Jodi's back now. And she would like to say WHAT THE EVERLOVING F^&* HAPPENED TO THE TOP HALF OF THE DRAW IN INDIAN WELLS?! The only dude that is even half a threat to Rafa now is Juan Martin del Potro and while he's pretty awesome, I don't think he's quite up to Rafa beating right now. We might as well pack up the top half now and send Rafa straight to the final.

And if I'm Rafa, I don't know how much I like this state of affairs. Because if I've been stuffing my face with cupcakes and then I get to the final and I get a big slice of Federer-or-Djokovic pie... I don't think that's going to sit too well, if you know what I mean. Cupcakes are many things - delicious, for example - but good preparation for a final? Not so much.

4 comments:

Annalisa Barla said...

LOL!! awesome post jodi! a.

evie said...

Lol. When you write it all down like that, it's even more absurd. I checked Rafa's opponents and he's not even playing anyone in the top 80(!) in his first three matches. Since Ivo will probably win tomorrow, that means he won't play anyone in the top 80 in his first four matches. Kinda the definition of cupcake.

Meanwhile, after today, there will only be one non-seed on the whole other half. Gotta laugh. Not Rafa's fault, of course, but it is ridiculous.

Tennis Talk, Anyone? said...

Pretty funny! I just took a look at that draw and you're right: It is pretty simple. I wonder, though, what would happen if he ran into del Potro or Querrey in the semis after not having been tested?

Yolita said...

My guess is that Rafa's fate, if he makes the final, will be the same as Roger's fate in Dubai, and for the same reason, lack of preparation.

But there's an important difference. Rafa's draw here turned out to be the easiest possible draw due to unexpected results, Soderling, Murray, Tsonga, Baghdatis, etc. losing their matches. But when the draw was released, there was nothing to suggest foul play, maybe him getting 6 qualifiers in his quarter was a bit odd, but nothing to raise an eyebrow.
The Dubai draw, on the contrary, was a statistical impossibility, ALL the WC's were neatly placed in Roger's quarter and ALL the qualifiers were neatly placed in the other quarter of Roger's half. The probabilities of that happening are so small as to be impossible for all practical purposes. The organisers there didn't want to leave anything to chance. Roger effectively got a bye to the final, and he didn't have a chance there, for the reasons you stated in your post, but the organisers' money was safe, they had their dream final, that's all they cared about.

After the Dubai draw, I decided to do an analysis of all the GS draws, all the Masters 1000 draws and a few 500's, during a whole year. I'm not prepared to extrapolate from Dubai to the whole ATP. But I have a doubt in my heart now. And I'm not happy.

The Dubai draw was definitely fixed, that's a mathematical certainty, but the AO and IW ones look OK at first glance. Still, I'm checking the draws the top 5 seeds get. I've done 3 tourneys so far and in every tourney, at every stage, round by round, the most difficult draw (in terms of highest ranked opponents) has been Novak's. I'm a mathematician,I know 3 tourneys is not much, it may be a coincidence. But I'm looking for odd patterns to see if any emerge.

If you're interested I'll send you my analysis at the end of the year.