Thursday, March 31, 2011


So I am seriously behind in my blogging. In the spirit of the new media we're experiencing here beyond the baseline this year, today will be presented in dot points.

  • Djokovic won again.

  • Now he plays Fish.

  • I wonder who will win. Hmmm. That is a tough one.

  • Roger got through too.

  • It was a much easier match than the last time he played Simon.

  • Now he plays Rafa.

  • I genuinely do wonder who will win that one.

  • Either way, they are still best bros. Count on it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Balding God Is Made Man; or, Some Pun About Fish

So. This Mardy Fish thing. It's a big deal why?

Maybe I just don't understand the significance of being the top player for your country. As long as I can remember, the top Australian guy has been Lleyton Hewitt, and that has not changed. Actually, I lie - the top guy might always have been Lleyton Hewitt, but I've seen a number of top ladies, including Molik, Stosur, Dellacqua and Dokic. And I just do not get why it is such a big deal that he is now ranked higher than Andy Roddick.

Seriously, do Fish and Roddick themselves care? Did Roddick text Fish and be all 'dude, you are now officially better than me, that is a thing?' Did that mean for all these years the American dudes were worshipping at the altar of Roddick like he was some sort of balding god? Why, why is it a thing that Fish and Roddick have done a swapsie in internal rankings? It's not a big deal that Fish is now ranked higher than... oh, I don't know, Monfils. Why does it matter so much more when it's Roddick?

And this isn't even the first time this has happened to A-Rod - he went through exactly the same thing with James Blake a few years back. And no one remembers that now. So I doubt anyone is going to remember this.

I don't want to belittle what Fish has done in this tournament, because he has done some great things. Beating David 'Lord Farquaad' Ferrer is not a thing of easiness. Neither is beating, oh, I don't know, Juan Martin del freaking Potro. But no one is paying attention to what he's actually done - not any more. No, it's all about some random permutation of a computer algorithm.

So. Internal rankings. Why do they matter? Should they matter? Because I, personally, think they are a bit rubbish. Discuss.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

They're So High (High Above Me, They're So Lovely)

We talk a lot about echelons in tennis - about the upper echelons, the middle ones, the lower ones, the upper-middle, the upper-upper, the upper-upper-upper... pretty much any echelon you want to think of, someone's probably talked about it.

The one we talk about most, however, is probably that extreme upper echelon - namely, who belongs to it. It used to be just Federer, all by himself. Then Rafa got in on the game, and then Djokovic a bit later, and then Murray a bit later again. Soderling's laid his claim to it. People are always talking about who the next big thing is, the one that will take that top echelon by storm. (Raonic and Dolgopolov seem to be the most popular candidates at the moment.)

But in reality, in tennis right now, that upper echelon has three men in it. And they are playing so much better than the rest of the field that it is just not funny. Rafa. Roger. Creme Brole. (Not necessarily in that order.) These guys are SO HIGH (high above me, they're so lovely.)

Let's review 2011 for these guys. Djokovic, as we know, has not lost a single match. Federer has only lost to Djokovic. Nadal has lost to Djokovic and to a couple of other dudes, but there was an injury cloud there for a moment (and now we're going into the clay season, where his dominance is totally unquestioned). The reason they are doing so well at the moment is because of pure consistency. These guys either a) don't lose or b) only lose to each other.

It sounds simple, that the guys at the top are the ones that aren't losing. But it seems to be a surprisingly tough concept for people to grasp sometimes.

Soderling had an excellent run for a while there - he won three out of four tournaments entered, with only that one loss to Dolgopolov marring his record. But now, in this US swing? Early, nasty losses. And he's dropped back down to #5...

...which is really odd, when you consider that the dude going back to #4 is Andy Murray, who has not won a set since he collapsed against Djokovic at the Australian Open. NOT ONE SINGLE SET. I know we've all heard this and we all talk about it, but seriously. NOT A SINGLE SET. Not even against Alex Bogomolov Jr, otherwise known as 'who?'

Murray has the talent and ability to reach that Fedalovic platform. No doubt. But if he's going to be such a mental midget, it is just NOT going to happen. These kind of losses... you could deal with one. The string he has is completely unacceptable.

We all love the streaky, unpredictable players - the Tsongas, the Safins, the Dolgopolovs. But to get to the top and stay there, you have to do one thing: win. And the complete collapse of the top ten in Miami this week has demonstrated exactly which dudes are doing that, and which dudes need to go back to the drawing board.

(Look! Paragraphs! Apologies for the crazy-ass spacing, but Blogger has been an absolute tosspot to me. Has anyone else found this?)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Still No Paragraphs

No paragraphs today. Roger's calling another meeting of the Bround table, because this Miami tournament is getting freaking weird. And also Blogger is getting super weird on me and isn't let me write paragraphs anyway.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nary A Paragraph To Be Found

Nothing to see today... except the be-Facebooked version of Knights of the Bround Table, courtesy of PJ. Check it out here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Knights of the Bround Table


Enter RAFA. The room is big and cavernous, dominated by a large round table. There are ten chairs around the table. Only one is occupied.

AX #1 - Whitney Houston, And I Will Always Love You

The fog machine turns on. Everything goes slow motion. ROGER raises his hand to his hair and brushes a stray Lindt chocolate curl out of his eyes.

ROGER: Oh hi, Rafa - I didn't see you there! You're early. Get up off the floor - you're going to hurt your knees again if you keep falling to the ground. You are so clumsy!

RAFA: Yes... I... am very clumsy, no? Hola, Rogelio.



ROGER and RAFA giggle.

RAFA: Why did you summon me here? We only play Knights of the Round Table for Players' Council, no? I didn't think we had that for another few months.

ROGER: Well -

RAFA: Can I be Lancelot?

ROGER: Sure.

RAFA: Is impossible for me to ever be Arthur. You are the best Arthur, Rogelio.

ROGER: Thanks, Rafa!

Enter NOLE.

NOLE: Honestly, you two make me sick.

ROGER: Just because you got voted out of Camelot - I mean, off the Players' Council - doesn't mean you have to be mean, Nole.

Enter A-Rod.

A-ROD: Yeah, Novak, the king is not dead yet.

NOLE: You are almost as bad as Rafa.

A-ROD: Want me to shove you in a locker again?

NOLE: I'd like to see you try.

A-ROD: It's no wonder you got voted off the Players' Council. You were always too sick to go to the meetings. SARS, bird flu, common cough and cold -

NOLE: Hey, I don't remember you ever being on the Council at all, Andy.

RAFA: Please don't fight. Fighting musses up Roger's hair.

A-ROD: Sorry, Roger.

ROGER: It's okay.

NOLE: Andy wishes he had hair to muss up.

A-ROD: Hey, too far, dude, too far.

RAFA: Is okay, Andy. I sympathise.

Enter FEVER and FERRU.

FEVER: Hola, Rafa!

FERRU: Hi guys!

A-ROD: Is his hair actually dripping with gel?

ROGER: Be nice, Andy.

FEVER (to RAFA): Hey, I heard from Lopez that you and Other Lopez BROke up.

FERRU: Yeah, he's playing doubles with Other Daveed.

FEVER: Nalbandian?

FERRU: No. Other Other David.

FEVER: I'm sorry, Rafa. It's always hard to lose a bro.

RAFA: ...who is Other Lopez again?

NOLE: It is just so easy for you to forget your bros, isn't it, Rafa?

RAFA: Hey, I'm bronogamous. I'm not polyamobrous like you. Where is your bro Andy anyway?

A-ROD: Whoa, whoa. Novak and I are NOT BROS. I'm bros with Roger.


A-ROD: Whoa... sorry.

RAFA: And anyway, I meant Andy Murray. Other Andy.

NOLE: We lost in doubles today. He's probably crying and hugging his Playstation.

ROGER: Losing is one of the reasons I've called you here today. If you can all just sit -

Enter THE YOKER, as if walking into a saloon in a Western movie. Music twangs. A moment of silent. A tumbleweed rolls by.


RAFA (to ROGER): You invited him? You know we're fighting!

THE YOKER: You invited him? You know we're fighting!

RAFA: You're imitating me again, no?

THE YOKER: You're imitating me again, no?

RAFA: Rogelio, I'm not comfortable with this.

THE YOKER: Rogelio, I'm not comfortable with this.

ROGER: Robin, that's enough. Come on, let's all be friends.


BIG BERD: Um, how about no?! Let's not be friends!

ROGER: ...whatever you want, Tomas. Come on, let's sit down.


JURGEN SCHMERGEN: Sorry I'm late, Roger.

RAFA (sotto voce): His name is Rogelio.

ROGER: That's all right, Jurgen. Come on, guys. Time to sit. And I'll explain why I called you here.

NOLE: Out of interest, how did you get my number?

ROGER: Off Rafa's phone.

BIG BERD: And how did you get my number?

ROGER: I got My Friend Stanley to find it for me.

BIG BERD: That's -

ROGER (shouting): Sit down, all of you!


RAFA: Are you mad, Rogelio? I don't want you to be mad.

ROGER: I'm fine.

RAFA: Are you going to wear the crown like in Players' Council?

ROGER: Not today.

THE YOKER: Shut up, Rafa.

RAFA: Hey!

THE YOKER: Why are we here?

ROGER: As you might have noticed, I have summoned the top ten players in the world here today -

JURGEN SCHMERGEN: But there are only nine of us!

ROGER: You're right. Who are we missing?

Enter MUZZ, hugging his Playstation.

MUZZ: Do you mind if I plug in over here and keep playing while -

ROGER: Yes, we mind.

MUZZ: You're so mean.

RAFA: Do not speak ill of Rogelio!

THE YOKER: You are such a suck up, Rafa!

BIG BERD: Yeah, why would you want to suck up to him?

NOLE: Exactly.

A-ROD: I meant it about the locker, Nole.

FERRU: I feel like I should be on the treadmill right now.

FEVER: Is there a mirror in here?



RAFA: We are all very sorry, Rogelio. We won't do it again.

ROGER: Thank you. Now, we, the top ten of the ATP, are gathered here today at the round table to talk about something very serious that is happening in Miami. Namely, the fact that we are not behaving like the top ten. We are losing, guys. We are not playing well.

NOLE: Um, excuse me, I don't want to sound arrogant or anything, but I don't remember losing, oh, well, THIS YEAR.

ROGER: Nole -

NOLE: And I believe I am ranked HIGHER THAN YOU.

ROGER: That is not the point.


RAFA: Novak, behave.

NOLE: No! I am #2 now, and -

RAFA: And I am #1 and I am telling you to SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP.

NOLE subsides and sits down.

FEVER: Wow, Rafa, I didn't know you had the cojones.

RAFA: Shhh. Rogelio is talking now.

ROGER: Thank you. Anyway, as I was saying, there seems to be quite a few - how shall I put it delicately?

THE YOKER (looking at RAFA): Losers?

ROGER: - sitting at this table. And we are the top ten, guys. We are meant to be an exclusive brotherhood -

RAFA: Brotherhood? But I thought I was your only bro!

A-ROD: I'm his bro too, you know. Andy Broddick, that's me.

THE YOKER: I am nobody's bro. I am Batman AND Robin. Brobin. I am my own bro.

BIG BERD: I don't want to be anyone's bro. Except maybe Bert. We are Sesame Street bros.

NOLE: Speak for yourself. If you ever call me Bert again, I will beat you. With a tennis racquet.

A-ROD: That'll be hard to do from the locker I'm going to shove you into.

ROGER: OKAY, MAYBE BROTHERHOOD WAS THE WRONG WORD. Let me explain my point... through song.

SONG #1 - We are the Top Ten
[tune: We are the Champions by Queen. Lyrics by Jodi]

We've lost matches
We've all done that
We've lost them early
Yes, we've all done that
But this week's been
We can't go on with all of this dead weight
We're carrying

We are the top ten, you guys
And we're being swatted - like flies!
We are the top ten
We need to know when
To bring in new blood
Into the top ten in the world.

It's one thing to lose
Another to fall
We can't win all of the matches all of the time
But we can't lose them all

It's time for hard choices
It's time now to choose
We're the top ten and we need to be awesome
Not be guys who lose.

We are the top ten, it seems
For us, winning should not be a dream
We are the top ten
The ATP top men
We should be winning
Because we are the top ten in the world.

ROGER: Is that clear?

A-ROD: Well, it was Queen.

RAFA: Rogelio is King!

NOLE: Dude. Please.

ROGER: It's normal for us to lose a match now and then, guys. Even a first round match. But look what's happened this week. It's been a total disaster. I think it's time.

FERRU: Time for what?

ROGER: To audition new members of the top ten.

A-ROD: But who's getting voted off the island?

EVERYONE turns to look at FEVER. FEVER doesn't notice. He is too busy admiring himself in a small handheld mirror.

FEVER: ...what?

ROGER: Fernando. It's hard to say this, but -

THE YOKER: You have lost too many matches this year. You're out.


THE YOKER: What? I tell it like it is. It's my thing.

FEVER: Look, there were circumstances. It was that Raonic kid, I swear, he's unnatural.

FERRU: Amigo, I think it's time to go.

FEVER: But I dated Ana Ivanovic! And maybe Caroline Wozniacki!

NOLE: She's giving me roses now, dude. And Ana and I... well, we had good times at Hopman Cup, if you know what I mean. Self five.

NOLE high fives himself.

A-ROD: Besides, if anyone here has a smoking hot lady friend, Nando, it's me. Have you seen my wife?

NOLE: Pity she hasn't helped your tennis.

A-ROD: Dude. I've won a title already this year, thank you very much. And made a final.

NOLE: Oh yeah? Well, I won Dubai, Indian Wells, and... hmmm, what was it? the Australian Open. What did you win?

A-ROD: ...Memphis.

NOLE: I move we kick Roddick out too.

ROGER: I think there's another Andy we need to discuss first.

EVERYONE looks at MUZZ, who is staring into space, playing air-Playstation.

JURGEN SCHMERGEN: that's just sad.

MUZZ: What?

ROGER: Andy. You haven't won a single set since the Australian Open.

MUZZ: Yeah, well, I lost to Nole. And I think he's been beating you too, so... haha.

ROGER: Yes, but I haven't lost to Donald Young. Or Alex Bogomolov Jr.

EVERYONE: ...who?

ROGER: Good question. I had to write it down to remember their names.

MUZZ: You can't vote me out. I just won Miami.

A-ROD: Look, Other Andy, I'm sorry to break it to you, but -

MUZZ: I won it on my air Playstation. And what do you mean, Other Andy? I'm Andy. You're Other Andy.

ROGER: It might be time for you to take a nice rest, Andy.

A-ROD and MUZZ: Huh?

ROGER: I am so glad I am the only Roger.

RAFA: There could only ever be one Rogelio.

NOLE: Spew.

ROGER: Jurgen Schmergen, show Mr Murray and Mr Verdasco out, please.

MUZZ: No! You can't do this!

ROGER: There are Playstations out there.

MUZZ: Oh! Okay!

THE YOKER: Guess who's the real #4 now.

FEVER: I don't want to go either!

ROGER: There are also mirrors. And hair gel.

FEVER: Where is the door again?

JURGEN SCHMERGEN: Do I have to stay out there with them? I lost to my friend Petszche today.

ROGER: You are on probation, but you can stay. You too, Andy.

MUZZ: But I thought I had to go.

ROGER: The other Andy.

MUZZ: Ha! You are Other Andy!

A-ROD: Oh, shut up.

Exit JURGEN SCHMERGEN with MUZZ and FEVER. JURGEN SCHMERGEN re-enters and takes his seat at the round table.

ROGER: Andy - Roddick Andy, that is - although you are probably numerically going to fall out of the top ten, I am permitting to stay due to your years of good service.

A-ROD: Thanks, man.

NOLE: What do you mean, YOU are permitting him, Mr Ranked Three?

RAFA: Anything Rogelio says, I will back up.

NOLE rolls his eyes.

ROGER: Now, remember - it is a privilege to be in the top ten, not a right. This council can reconvene at any moment.

BIG BERD: But now we are only a top eight, Mr I Am So Good At Counting.

ROGER: I was getting to that. It looks like we need some new members to sit at this round table. So let's take some nominations.

NOLE: Troicki.

ROGER: Absolutely not.

A-ROD: No.

FERRU: Never.

THE YOKER: You have got to be yoking.

NOLE: Why?

BIG BERD: No minions.

NOLE: Um, excuse me, Rafa has a minion here.

NOLE points to FERRU.

FERRU: Um, excuse me, I beat him in Australia. And I took a set off your bro Murray.

NOLE: Dude, he is NOT my bro.

FERRU: And I'm not a minion, so shut your face. How about Almagro?

A-ROD: No minions!

BIG BERD: Monfils?

JURGEN SCHMERGEN: Too bendy. Besides, we both dated the same girl. Awkward.

A-ROD: Tsonga?

FERRU: Too always injured.

ROGER: Del Potro?

THE YOKER: Give him time. We need to prepare ourselves.

RAFA: Youzhny?

A-ROD: Too head-smashy.

NOLE: Nalbandian?

RAFA: No. He used to beat me all the time.

A-ROD: Well, that's good, isn't it?

BIG BERD: Yeah, we don't want losers.

RAFA: ...then he stopped beating me all the time.


A-ROD: Mardy Fish?

FERRU: No minions!

BIG BERD: Cilic?

NOLE: Are you joking?

BIG BERD: Well, he beat Verdasco a few weeks back.

NOLE: Who HASN'T beaten Verdasco?

THE YOKER: How about Dolgopolov? He beat me.

ROGER: His hair is too nice.

NOLE: You're just bitter about the doubles in Indian Wells.

ROGER: At least I made it to the final. How did you and Andy go again?

NOLE: You cannot blame that on me.

RAFA (sotto voce): Polyamobrousness is wrong.

ROGER: What about My Friend Stanley?

RAFA's eyes fill with tears.

RAFA: You don't mean that.

NOLE: No. Minions.

ROGER: Well, we've ruled out just about everyone. Come on, guys, we need two new guys for the top ten. We can't have a top ten with eight people in it.

BIG BERD: I'm tired.

THE YOKER: Maybe we should call Murray and Nando back.

ROGER: I could try singing another song, if that would help.

RAFA: Yes!


A-ROD: I think we're just going to have to let the computer decide.

FERRU: But then you probably won't be in the top ten.

A-ROD: Oh.

BIG BERD: If you lose to Cuevas you deserve to be kicked out.

A-ROD: You lost to Golubev in Davis Cup.

BIG BERD: Shut up.

A-ROD: Make me.

JURGEN SCHMERGEN: This is not helpful.

ROGER: Remember Davydenko? He was in the top ten for a while.


ROGER: ...yeah, me neither. Not really.

RAFA: We are not getting anywhere with this.

NOLE: Is this what Players' Council meetings are like now I'm not on it?

ROGER: It is much easier to get things done. Mostly because everyone is too busy worshipping me.

RAFA: I have an idea.

ROGER: What is your idea, Rafa?

RAFA produces a bottle of Bacardi.

RAFA: I think that this meeting would be much better with some responsible drinking, no?

THE YOKER: Finally. Something we can agree on.

Friday, March 25, 2011

WTF Andy Murray?!

That is literally the only sensible thing that can be said about today.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wearing My Sombrebro

Nothing to see here today, kids. Except that the lovely PJ has Facebooked 'Sombrebro' - you can find it here.

Back tomorrow! I might even talk SENSE then instead of writing nonsensical musicals. Who knows...?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


...I did not intend to write this, much as I never intended to become the author of a Rafa-centric soapie about how much he loves Roger. But I wrote one of the songs, and the rest could not help but follow.



ROGER: My Friend Stanley? What are you doing in the closet?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: I was... counting your shirts. And sorting them for you - pale through to dark. I thought you would like that.

ROGER: Wow, that is very thoughtful of you, My Friend Stanley! But you have got it all wrong. I have learned all about fashion from my good friend Anna Wintour.


ROGER: Come on out of the closet, My Friend Stanley!

MY FRIEND STANLEY follows ROGER out of the closet. Close up on ROGER's phone, which is in MY FRIEND STANLEY's pocket.


RAFA is getting ready for the match. He puts on his green shirt.

RAFA: You would look so nice in green, Rogelio.

NOLE rolls his eyes.

NOLE: Dude. He doesn't love you back. Deal with it. Get over it. He isn't going to call.

RAFA: He will call. He is Rogelio. He always calls. He is a true champion. He always does what is needed. He is the GOAT. The GOAT of tennis and of bros.

NOLE: Rafa. Is he giving you what you need?

RAFA: He gives me love. That is enough.

NOLE: Rafa. Tennis. Love means nothing.

A silence.

NOLE: Bros shouldn't treat you like this. That's why I dumped Andy Murray. He was always playing Playstation all the time, never had time to bro out.

RAFA: I thought it was because he fell asleep during our match.

NOLE: Probably because he was up so late playing Playstation. He should be bros with the Playstation, I swear.

RAFA: Why do you want to be bros so badly, Nole?

NOLE: We are #1 and #2 now. That's how it should be. It's meant to be.

RAFA: Rogelio and I are meant to be.


AX #1 - Whitney Houston, And I Will Always Love You

RAFA and ROGER skip through the streets of Zurich in slow motion, smiling and laughing. ROGER buys RAFA an ice cream and they eat them with wrists linked. They feed some ducks in a pond some bread. ROGER hides behind a tree. RAFA looks for him. ROGER jumps out, RAFA pretends to be shocked, and they embrace like the bros they are.

Then they are playing tennis on the water court, and the water and the sweat is glistening on them like diamonds. They shake hands at the net. A stray Lindt chocolate curl is hanging in ROGER's eyes. Ever so gently, RAFA fixes for it.

RAFA: There. All better.

ROGER: You are such a good bro, Rafa.


NOLE: Dude. That is deeply creepy.

RAFA: Is impossible for you to understand, no? You and Andy Murray were only ever fake bros. Rogelio and I have something special.

NOLE: Maybe you did - once. But he's dumped you for My Friend Stanley now. Let me explain it to you... through song.

SONG #1 - Federer, Not Betterer
[Tune: Tainted Love by Soft Cell, words by Jodi]


Is really
Not your bro
He doesn't
Love you so
It's obvious that he hangs with My Friend Stanley
It's become clear
That you are
Not dear
You've texted nine times
Now, Rafa, read between the lines!

It was him and you (you two)
Now I am ranked two
The Federyears are over
Come on, let's roll in the clover
I'll be your bro and we'll have awesome times!
Not betterer

Don't you think he doesn't
Treat you right
Ignores you
Out of spite
Prefers to hang out with My Friend Stanley
You deserve more
So shut that
I know he's all that you know
But I promise I'll be a better bro!

I am Creme Brole (Nole)
And I will make your day
Look, here's a great sombrero!
It's a gift because I care, bro!
Let's be bros and we'll have awesome times!
Not betterer

Put down that phone
Roger deserves to be alone!
He chose My Friend Stanley over you
Now you must make a big choice too!
Not betterer
Not betterer
Choose me, Rafa
Not Roger
Choose me, Rafa
Not Roger
Not betterer
Not betterer

RAFA (wavering): Look, Nole, I see what you're saying, but is impossible for me to dump Rogelio.

RAFA's phone beeps.

RAFA: See! He does care, no?


MY FRIEND STANLEY: Muahahahahahahaha.

ROGER: Why are you laughing, My Friend Stanley?



The phone falls nervelessly from RAFA's hands. A close up of the screen. It is a picture of ROGER and MY FRIEND STANLEY, arms around each other, captioned 'best bros forever'. Homer Simpson is sitting on ROGER's cap.

NOLE: Rafa? Are you okay?

Close up of RAFA's face. He is somewhere between hysterical tears and the Incredible Hulk.

RAFA: Give me that sombrero.


A montage of RAFA and NOLE bro-ing out. They play a bit of tennis, carry some hilarious Spanish-style man-bags, laugh while wearing their ridiculous sombreros... and then they dance. There is LOTS of dancing. Eventually, NOLE dips RAFA. They look like total bros. And then the screen widens and widens until...


...ROGER is watching NOLE and RAFA bro out on television, and there is a tear in his eye.

ROGER: Rafa. Why? Did I not giggle enough with you? What happened? Why are you there bro-ing out with Nole? I thought we were bros.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: I am your bro, Roge! I will be the best bro of all the bros! We can be all Swiss! I will help pick up the garbage when Andy Murray throws it at you!

ROGER: ...what?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: I have been watching a lot of YouTube lately. When I haven't been on Twitter. Want to take a picture with Homer, Roge? Or... we could call him Bromer!

ROGER: Not now. Have you seen my phone?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Um... no. I could call you Broge!

ROGER: I need my phone - is that my phone in your pocket or -

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Oh! How did that get there?

ROGER turns his back on MY FRIEND STANLEY and dials.


NOLE: See? Wasn't that fun? Isn't it fun to chill with a bro who treats you right?

RAFA: I had a good time, Novak. Thank you.

NOLE: Are you sure you won't consider 'Creme Brole'?

RAFA: Is impossible for me to call you that. Nole is good enough for me.

NOLE's face darkens.

NOLE: You called him Rogelio.

RAFA: Well, a Slam isn't won in a day, no?

RAFA's phone rings.

RAFA: Excuse me. Must be Other Lopez. He keeps calling me all the time. Hello?


ROGER: Rafa?


A moment of breathless silence.

RAFA: ...Rogelio?

NOLE: Hang up now, Rafa. Hang up now. He doesn't deserve to be bros with you.


ROGER: Is that Novak?


RAFA: Yes. I am sorry that I betrayed your bro-hood, Rogelio. This thing with Nole... it meant nothing to me. I am so, so sorry.


ROGER: It's all right, Rafa. I haven't been giving you what you need. I didn't get your texts - my phone somehow mysteriously fell into My Friend Stanley's pocket. But did Novak have to be your rebound bro? Anyway, isn't he bros with Andy Murray?


RAFA: They BROke up.


ROGER: But they're playing doubles together in Miami.


RAFA: What? Novak, is this true? Are you and Andy Murray still together? Are you playing doubles?

NOLE: I was going to tell you, Rafa, I really was.

RAFA: I feel dirty.


ROGER: No, it's my fault, Rafa. I've been all distracted by My Friend Stanley and matching shirts and I forgot what's really important. You are very, very special to me. Let me explain it... in song.

SONG #2 - Rafa Nadal
[Tune: 'Lady In Red' by Chris de Burgh; words by Jodi]

I've never met somebody who looked so good in a sombrero
Rocked a Spanish man bag so
Mmm, mmm, mmm.

I've never met somebody who could hit a forehand quite so fast
Hit it hard with so much class
With a famous ass.

When I saw you dancing with Nole
My heart just broke in two - it should be me
You should dance with me

Rafa Nadal
Play tennis with me
Be my bro
Ditch Djokovic
Please tell him no
Because I love you so
I've treated you bad
Stanley had my phone
Rafa, forgive me
Don't leave me on my own.

I've never seen somebody dance the salsa like you dance the dance
Hope I haven't wasted my chance
Dumped me for Nole.

I've never seen somebody with a haircut as awesome as yours
Except when I look in mirrors
You take my breath away.

When you say my name - 'Rogelio'
My breath catches in my throat
For we are GOAT
Bro, we are GOAT.

Rafa Nadal
Please don't forget me
Don't leave me
We should still chill
Though I am ranked #3
Not where I wanna be
You know I'm right
No one can compare
Stan and I share shirts
But you and I share hair
Please never forget
Just how much I care.

Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal
My Rafa Nadal
You're my bro.


RAFA wipes away tears.

RAFA: That is the most beautiful song anyone has ever sung to me. Including Shakira.


ROGER: I have to go, Rafa, my singing woke the kids up. But we'll hang out when you come to Miami. Maybe we can have a special Swiss campfire?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: But campfires are our thing!


RAFA: I would like that. Is impossible for me not to love that. I see you soon.

RAFA hangs up and then turns to face NOLE.

NOLE: I was going to tell you about me and Andy Murray, I swear... when the time was right.

RAFA: Novak. I have no confidence in you now.

NOLE: But...we had fun, didn't we? Wearing matching clothes... dancing... doing bro things in Brogota...

RAFA: Is called Bogota. No more Brogota. I have only one best bro, and his name -

Close up on RAFA's happy, beaming face.

RAFA: - is Rogelio.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rogelio In Many Media

No Baseline today - though there will be further episodes in the great Rogelio saga at some point (and maybe even some regularly scheduled blogging!) in the near future. But I'm off working hard to make a living right now.

To entertain you, though, check out what my good friend PJ has done! She's reworked 'His Name Is Rogelio' and 'Flying to Brogota' in Facebook format, and it's AWESOME. Check it out here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Flying To Brogota

How on earth did I end up writing what now appears to be a Rafa-centric TV series? This was not in my life plan. It was not dreamt of in my philosophy.


On one side of the jet sits NOLE, hugging his Indian Wells trophy. On another sits RAFA, texting someone on his mobile phone.

NOLE: I'm so glad you agreed to play this exhibition with me, Rafa.

RAFA: What? Oh, yeah. Whatever.

NOLE: We will have so much fun!

RAFA: Um, yeah, sure.

NOLE: Who are you texting?

RAFA (a little too quickly): Nobody. Uncle Toni. Lopez. Other Lopez. No one you know.

RAFA sends his text.

RAFA (whispering): Please text back.

NOLE: What?

RAFA: Nothing.


ROGER is holding one of his kids in one arm, fixing his hair with the other. MY FRIEND STANLEY is sitting on the couch, the other twin crawling near his feet. The Homer Simpson doll is sitting on the table.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: So anyway, now we have matching trophies! I know our gold medals match, but now we have MORE matching stuff. Like shirts! Though you have more blue shirts than me now.

ROGER (distracted): Uh-huh.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: We are totally SO GOOD together, Roge.

ROGER's phone beeps.

ROGER: Oooh, a text! Can you get that for me, My Friend Stanley?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Of course, Roge!

MY FRIEND STANLEY picks up ROGER's phone. Jump cut to the screen which says: 'Dear Rogelio, I am sorry Nole called me GOAT. Is impossible for me to be GOAT when you are GOAT. Please forgive me. Rafa.'

MY FRIEND STANLEY'S face darkens.

ROGER: What does it say?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Um... nothing. Wrong number.


RAFA: Why did we agree to play this exhibition anyway? It is so inconvenient, no?

NOLE: I thought we could spend some more time together.

RAFA: You know we are very good friends, Nole, but we see each other all the time. Why do we need to spend more time together?

NOLE: Now that we are #1 and #2, we totally need to hang out more.

RAFA: Can we time it better next time?

NOLE: Good point.

Another pause.

NOLE: Maybe you should be president of Players' Council when the elections happen again. I could be your VP.

RAFA: Roger is president.

NOLE: But maybe you should be.

RAFA: No. Is impossible for me to be president, no? Rogelio is president.

NOLE: But for me, you are the greatest player of all time.

RAFA: I told you already before. You can't say that. Is stupid, no? Besides, you just beat me, so I cannot be the best.

NOLE: But you beat Roger all the time and you always say he's the best.

RAFA: Is different.

NOLE: No, it's not.

RAFA: Yes, it is.


RAFA: Yes.

NOLE: He likes My Friend Stanley more than you.

RAFA: Shut up!

NOLE: Oh, Rafa, I'm sorry. Don't cry.

RAFA (sniffing): I'm not crying.

NOLE: It's okay. So Roger likes My Friend Stanley more than you. Big deal.

RAFA: His name is Rogelio.

NOLE: I will be your new bro.

RAFA: I don't want a new bro. Besides, aren't you bros with Andy Murray now?

NOLE: Pfft. He fell asleep during our match. He's dumped. What do you think? I could be Brokovic.

RAFA: Novak. How can I say this?

NOLE: Brovak?

RAFA: I don't think -

NOLE: Creme Brole?

RAFA: Novak, I know we once had a very meaningful chest bump at the Hit For Haiti and I like you, I really do, but -

NOLE: Be my bro, Rafa!

RAFA: Let me explain it to you... through song.

The lights come down, the music comes up.

Love Story [tune by Taylor Swift, words by Jodi]
In Miami, I first played him
I close my eyes and see it again
Not yet eighteen
He had two Slams, not sixteen.
We played third round, and somehow I beat him
I was so stunned - I was thrilled just to meet him
He said, "Well done,"
And my heart was won.
He is Rogelio
He is the greatest ever
And everyone says, "You should be enemies!
"You're rivals, you're not friends
"And it should be so!"
But I say,
"Rogelio, let's go somewhere we can just hang out
"No one shouting that friendship's not what it's about.
"You be Sampras and I'll be Agassi
"But it's a love story, we're not enemies."
So we go off to play exhibitions
We giggle a lot, lose our inhibitions
We are best bros
Famous Ass and Potato Nose.
'Cause he's Rogelio
And I'm Raging Bull Rafa
And everyone says we should be enemies
Less crying and more shouting
We really should be foes!
But I say,
"Rogelio, hug me, you don't need to cry no more
"For every Slam I win I bet that you will win four
"You be Laver and I'll be Emerson
"It's a love story, let's go have fun.
"Rogelio, text me, I'll be waiting by the phone
"We are rivals but we don't have to be alone
"You be Lendl and I'll be McEnroe
"But it's a love story, because we are best bros."
But now he hangs with Stanley
And I wonder if he sees me at all
It hurts, it hurts badly
When he just doesn't answer my calls.
And I say,
"Rogelio, pick up, we haven't chattered for a while,
"Please don't ignore me - it's not your normal style
"Is impossible
"For you to like Stan more,"
He picks up the phone
And closes the door and says,
"How are you, Rafa, I've missed you so badly!
"I really don't like My Good Friend Stanley!
"He's so annoying - how didn't I know?
"We're a love story - you are my best bro!"

NOLE: One, your imagination is terrifying. Two, you know love means nothing in tennis, right?

RAFA: Rogelio and I are bros. Look, Novak, I'm sorry, it's not you, it's me.

NOLE: But I am #2 now.

RAFA: I don't want to hurt your feelings, but -

NOLE: But our matches are so much better! Remember Madrid, man? 2009? You and me... good times.

RAFA: And then Roger beat me in the final. He is the greatest of all time.

NOLE: Dude. You have an inferiority complex. For serious. I don't know what you see in him.


ROGER is illuminated in glowing light. The wind machine is on. In slow motion, he pushes his hair out his eyes.

AX #1: The Hallelujah Chorus.


RAFA: Well, you and I could never have matching haircuts. I couldn't pull off the Bert like you do, Nole.

RAFA pulls out his phone again. He is about to start texting when it rings.

RAFA: Hello?


MY FRIEND STANLEY: I know what happened at the trophy ceremony.


RAFA: Well, it was televised, no?


MY FRIEND STANLEY: Roge will be very disappointed. Actually, he won't, because he likes me more than you.


RAFA: His. Name. Is. Rogelio.

In the background, NOLE rolls his eyes.


MY FRIEND STANLEY: You may have tried to back pedal, and say it was all stupid that Novak thinks you're the GOAT, but -

Suddenly, the door opens. ROGER has opened it.

ROGER: My Friend Stanley? What are you doing in the closet?


NOLE: Dude. You are so whipped.

RAFA: Whatever.

NOLE: Was that a yes-whatever or a no-whatever?

RAFA: ...I think I will take a siesta now.

NOLE: But we're nearly there! We'll be landing in Bogota soon!

A pause.

NOLE: Or should I say... BROgota?

RAFA: Nole. No.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

His Name Is Still Rogelio

I refer you to yesterday's film script. Everyone is still much too emotional for me to possibly write today. Rafa and My Friend Stanley are fighting again, Roger is all sad about losing twice in a day...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

His Name Is Rogelio

We're doing something a bit different here beyond the baseline today. Instead of writing about tennis, we're going to do a dramatic re-enactment instead. (If anyone is foolish enough to want to make this film, you know, call me.)

This is called 'His Name Is Rogelio' and it goes out to the Federbitches.


RAFA sits on a bench, looking sad and lonely. He has a towel, which he is twisting between his hands. He is very sweaty - he has just come off court after playing a long, gruelling match.

Enter IVO. He doesn't look at RAFA. He is too busy tweeting about how he just lost. He exits. RAFA sighs. He is alone. Until...

Enter ROGER, who crosses to his locker.

ROGER: Hi, Rafa.

RAFA's face breaks into a huge smile.

RAFA: Hola, Rogelio! How are you? What is going on? What are you doing here? I just played a match! When do you play a match? Where have you been?

ROGER: How did your match go?

RAFA: I won. Just. Is impossible to win easy, no?

ROGER: That's great!

A silence. ROGER and RAFA look at each other, and then giggle like little schoolboys for approximately fifteen minutes. Eventually...

RAFA: What are you doing here? hee hee hee.

ROGER: Oh, you know how I'm playing doubles with My Friend Stanley?

RAFA's face darkens.

RAFA: Yes. Hey, remember how we played doubles at the Rally for Relief? We should do that in a tournament sometime!

ROGER: Maybe. I like playing with My Friend Stanley. Are you crying?

RAFA (sniffing): No.

ROGER: Well, I have a yellow shirt and he has a blue shirt. He wore a yellow shirt yesterday, so I think it's my turn to match him. I asked Nike to send me a blue shirt.

RAFA: I have a green shirt. You would look so nice in green.

ROGER: Thanks, Rafa. You are a nice boy. How's your doubles going?

RAFA: It's fine. Hey Roger, want to play -

ROGER: Anyway, I just came to see if my new blue shirt - you know, so I can match My Friend Stanley - has arrived.

ROGER opens his locker. 45 blue shirts fall out.

ROGER: Wow! I guess Nike really like me.

RAFA: Nike really like me too! We are Nike bros!

ROGER: Yes, Rafa, we are totally Nike bros.

More giggling.

ROGER: Anyway, I should take my shirts and go. I'm off to dinner.

RAFA: Where are you going?

ROGER: Oh, I don't know. I'll let Mirka decide. It'll be nice. A real family dinner. Me, Mirka, the kids... and My Friend Stanley. Bye, Rafa!


RAFA sniffs. He is near tears.

RAFA: Is impossible for him to like My Friend Stanley as much as likes me, no?


OTHER LOPEZ: Hey Rafa, want to come to late late Spanish dinner when you've done your press and stuff?

RAFA: Not this time, Other Lopez.

OTHER LOPEZ: What do you mean, no? I'm your doubles partner! I'm your bro! I'm Bropez!

RAFA: I am tired after my match. Tired and sad.

OTHER LOPEZ: Why can't we be BFFs like Roger and My Friend Stanley?


OTHER LOPEZ: Whoa. Chill. Later, dudelio.


RAFA stares into the middle distance, trying not to cry. After a moment, enter NOLE

NOLE: Hey Rafa, want to play an awesomely badly timed and inconveniently located exho with me in Bogota the day after the final?

RAFA: Whatever.

NOLE: Awesome!


RAFA: What? No! That was a NO-WHATEVER, not a YES-WHATEVER, Nole!

Exit RAFA after NOLE, running.


Enter RAFA and OTHER LOPEZ. OTHER LOPEZ is dressed identically to RAFA, except for his shoes.

OTHER LOPEZ: Are you excited, Rafa? I'm excited! Remember how we won here last year?

RAFA: Is impossible for me to remember, no? I have won so many things.

OTHER LOPEZ: Well, it was awesome! We're awesome! We're the best team ever! Rafa and Bropez RULE, man!

RAFA: Whatever.

A pause.

RAFA: That was a yes-whatever. We, um, rule.

OTHER LOPEZ: VAMOS! Let's play tennis! Let's beat those Swiss cheeses!

AX #1: Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You

Enter ROGER, in slow motion. The wind machine starts up and blows his chocolate curls back. In slow motion. RAFA stares at him, lovestruck.

ROGER: Hi Rafa! Like my new blue shirt?

RAFA: You look... beautiful.

OTHER LOPEZ: Rafa, why have you fallen to your knees? Is that why you injure them all the time?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Yeah Rafa, why?

MY FRIEND STANLEY emerges from behind RAFA.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Don't Roger and I look great, Rafa? Don't we look like... best friends?

RAFA: I'm ranked #1 in the world.

ROGER: Dude.

RAFA: Sorry, Roger! I did not mean to offend you! For me you are the greatest player, you know -

ROGER: What, were you saying something before? I just meant, dude, get up, we have to start the match.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Yeah, me and Roger are going to kick your arse.

RAFA: I won't let you, My Friend Stanley. You can't intimidate me.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Roger likes me more than you.

RAFA: Prove it.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Hey Roge, who am I?

ROGER: You're My Friend Stanley! Come on, let's play!

MY FRIEND STANLEY: That's right. I'm his friend Stanley. And who are you...?

MY FRIEND STANLEY and ROGER walk to their side of the net. RAFA stares after them, a tear in his eye.

OTHER LOPEZ: Rafa, come on! We have to start the match!

RAFA: His name is ROGELIO.


A tennis montage. ROGER hits some awesome shots, mostly in slow motion, chocolate curls flying artistically. RAFA hits a few monstrous forehands, a few right at MY FRIEND STANLEY. MY FRIEND STANLEY reciprocates with some backhand winners. OTHER LOPEZ tries to get RAFA to notice him.

End of the first set. RAFA is serving. It is deuce, deciding point. If RAFA wins this point, the set goes to a tiebreaker. If he loses, ROGER and MY FRIEND STANLEY will win the set.

RAFA throws the ball in the air for his first serve... and suddenly we are in his mind.

SCENE #4 [INT] - RAFA's mind

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Roger likes me more than you!

ROGER and MY FRIEND STANLEY sit next to a campfire, warming their hands. Gradually, slowly, ROGER moves his hands so he is warming them on MY FRIEND STANLEY.

ROGER: My Friend Stanley...


ROGER: Can I call you... My Best Friend Stanley?

RAFA: Nooooooooooooo!


RAFA serves.


MY FRIEND STANLEY grins evilly at RAFA, who grits his teeth.

RAFA: No. I will not let him defeat me.

OTHER LOPEZ: Come on, bro! You can do it!

RAFA: Who are you again?



RAFA throws the ball in the air to serve again, and... he looks into ROGER's eyes.


RAFA: And what are you going to give me? for the present?

ROGER: I'll give you the first set.

RAFA and ROGER giggle like little schoolboys.

RAFA: We are bros, no? BEST bros?

ROGER: Totally. And bros give each other presents, don't they?


RAFA serves.


UMPIRE: Game, first set, Federer and Wawrinka, seven games to five!

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Woo! Yeah! Hopp Suisse! We are the Swiss! The mighty mighty Swiss! See you soon! On the moon! We are the best, aren't we, Roger!

ROGER: We rock, My Friend Stanley!

OTHER LOPEZ: Dude, what were you doing?

RAFA: For you, Rogelio. The first set, it was for you. My gift.


Another montage. ROGER and MY FRIEND STANLEY clearly have the upper hand. OTHER LOPEZ is alternately flabbergasted and trying to make RAFA remember he's there. RAFA is distracted by the slow motion wind machine glory going on near ROGER.

Eventually, MY FRIEND STANLEY is serving for the match. RAFA hits a huge forehand which MY FRIEND STANLEY cannot get to. RAFA does a double fistpump.

UMPIRE: Forty thirty.

MY FRIEND STANLEY serves to OTHER LOPEZ, who loses the point.

UMPIRE: Game, set, match, Federer and Wawrinka, two sets to love. Seven five, six three.

OTHER LOPEZ: Dude, I am SO SAD we lost. Rafa and Bropez are out of the tournament. What are we going to do?

RAFA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.

OTHER LOPEZ: Which whatever was that?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Hey Roge, do you think I was on fire? Want to warm your hands on me?

ROGER: Not today, My Friend Stanley. I'm a bit tired.

MY FRIEND STANLEY is crestfallen. Slowly, a huge smile spreads over RAFA's face.

ROGER: Good match, Rafa.

RAFA: Thanks, Rogelio. Good luck for the final.

ROGER: Thanks.

ROGER and RAFA shake hands. They hold hands for a moment longer than is strictly appropriate. They stare into each others' eyes, sympatico on every level.


ROGER, MY FRIEND STANLEY, RAFA and OTHER LOPEZ are all towelling down and doing that kind of thing after the match.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Hey, there's a note in my locker! It landed right on top of Homer Simpson's head!

OTHER LOPEZ: Rafa, you never leave notes in my locker.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: This is so sweet, Roge.

ROGER (doing his hair): Mmm? It's not from me. I was too busy reading The Elegant Universe to write notes.

OTHER LOPEZ: What does it say?

MY FRIEND STANLEY (unfolding the note): 'Dear My ENEMY Stanley, is impossible for Roger to like you more than me. Has he ever played exhibitions for charity with you? NO. Did you play doubles and ping pong tennis with him in Australia? NO. Do you have the GOAT bromance? Do you have a gigglefits video? Did you hug him and nearly make out with him when you beat him in Australia in 2009? NO. You may be His Friend Stanley, but I am HIS BROTHER, no?'

A silence. Everyone looks at RAFA.

RAFA: I didn't write that. Doesn't even sound like me, no?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Of course it was you! Who else could it be?

RAFA: All right, it was me - because I am the ONLY ONE he does those things with. ROGELIO LIKES ME THE BEST.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Um, NO, bitch. Has ROGE ever let you take a picture of him with Homer Simpson sitting on his cap brim? NO.

RAFA: Well, I don't play with dolls, LOSER. And anyway, Fedal sounds WAY cooler than Fedrinka. What is that? It sounds like something you use to fix your sink!

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Yeah, well, Fedal sounds like something you would eat for dinner! With rice!

OTHER LOPEZ: Why don't you ever fight over ME, Rafa?


MY FRIEND STANLEY: Um, who is that guy again?

RAFA: Other Lopez. Bropez. Something. I can't remember.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Anyway, fighting again. How many gold medals have you won, bitch?


MY FRIEND STANLEY: How many have you won WITH ROGE?

RAFA: His name is ROGELIO!

RAFA and MY FRIEND STANLEY grab each other and throw down on the floor of the locker room.

ROGER (giggling): Oh boys, don't fight over little old me!

Enter MIRKA.


RAFA and MY FRIEND STANLEY stop fighting.

ROGER: Hello, Mirka.

ROGER kisses MIRKA's cheek.

MIRKA: What is going on here?

RAFA and MY FRIEND STANLEY stop fighting and look sheepish.

MIRKA: On your feet, both of you.


MIRKA: Were you two fighting over who Roger loves the most again?

ROGER: Guys, you know I love you both.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: But I'm Your Friend Stanley! You love ME!

RAFA: But we have a fine bromance!

MIRKA: Ahem.


MIRKA: We've had this conversation before. No more fighting over Roger. He worries that you'll get hurt and it musses up his hair.

RAFA: Nothing could muss up your hair, Roger. That's why I got my hair cut just like you.


RAFA: Ewok.

MIRKA: Boys.


MIRKA: We've talked about this, remember? Roger is very good friends with both of you.

ROGER: Yeah, love you guys!

MIRKA: But when it comes to who he loves most, the answer is...

AX #2: Drumroll.

RAFA: Please choose me, Rogelio.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: I love you so much, Roge.

MIRKA: Guys, haven't you figured that out yet?

RAFA and MY FRIEND STANLEY both look crestfallen.

MIRKA: Come on, Roger. Charlene and Myla have woken up and I need another pair of hands to change nappies.


ROGER: Isn't she the best? See you guys.


RAFA and MY FRIEND STANLEY stare after him mournfully.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Well, if Mirka's #1, then I'm #2.

RAFA: No, I'm #2, no?


RAFA: I'd be a better #2!

Enter NOLE

NOLE: I thought I was the one fighting to be #2.


Friday, March 18, 2011

A Piece Of Cake...?

I've been writing about cake a lot this week. In case you hadn't noticed. This is probably due to two things: firstly, Rafa's half of the draw has been a big ol' cupcake, and secondly, cake is delicious.

Given the subject of this blog - you know, like, tennis and stuff - I'm going to write about the former again today. But cake IS delicious. That is my endorsed position.

So. Cake. Rafa's draw. I want to say that I've been unfair, that I branded this side as cupcake-y out of some malicious impulse deep in my soul or something. But I don't think it's true. On paper, this side of the draw is as cupcake-y as you get. Let's look at Rafa's draw so far. De Voest. Sweeting. Devvarman. Karlovic. Of them, Devvarman is the only one even ranked in the top hundred.

Cake. Rafa's having it, Rafa's eating it... someone said 'let Rafa eat cake!' and Rafa took that cake and - oh. Wait.

In the first two rounds, Rafa was jamming cake down like he was never going to eat a cake again. But then he played Devvarman. And Devvarman played him good, yo. You can see yesterday's blog post for my round up of just how well Devvarman played. I think I called him a cupcake with teeth. Which is actually a little unfair, because even though on paper, this looks like a cake-y match up, Somdev didn't play like cake AT ALL.

But you want an object lesson in a cupcake who didn't play like a cupcake? What's the weather like up there, Dr Ivo?

Ivo Karlovic is a problematic player. Right now, he's ranked way down in the #200s or something, which - you know, CAKE. But even when he was inside the top hundred, it always seemed strangely irrelevant to put a number ranking on Dr Ivo. If you could win the tiebreaks, then you would win the match. Because eight or nine times out of ten, Dr Ivo would take you to the tiebreak. He's the first word in one-dimensional games - not necessarily because the rest of his game is noticeably crap (it's so beige I can't remember how he plays, really) but because his serve is so good that it eclipses everything.

But he's coming back off injury and Rafa is #1, so... piece of cake, yeah?

How about NO. How about Dr Ivo played Rafa so hard - 23 aces! - that there was every possibility that Rafa would go down, that even this cupcake-y draw could defeat the world #1, pull him down like quiksand into a giant morass of cake?

Wow. I took that metaphor a little far. That is a disturbing mental image.

Rafa was extremely lucky to win this match. That was what I was trying to say. It basically hinged on one point - if Karlovic had got the minibreak in the third set breaker, then he would have won, end of story. Rankings are irrelevant for Karlovic because he can beat anyone if they can't deal with his serve. And although Rafa did reasonably well, it still almost wasn't enough.

And yet, on paper, Karlovic should have been yet another cupcake on Rafa's plate. Tennis can always, always surprise you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Bizarre Image Which Will Haunt Your Nightmares

Sometimes cupcakes have teeth.

(How is that for a weird mental image?)

We had what has to be one of the best night session lineups in the history of ever in Indian Wells tonight - Rafa playing first, Roger playing second. It does not get any better than that, end of story. And their opponents? Cupcake #1 and Cupcake #2. But these cupcakes... they were the kind with teeth. They weren't quite haggis vindaloo, but they were the kind of cupcakes you'd choke and splutter on. These cupcakes played well above their rankings. And good on them both.

Rafa's cupcake was Somdev Devvarman, he who had a pretty sweet Davis Cup win over Janko Tipsarevic a little while ago and who is in pretty good form. Still, if you're opponent's Rafa, you're essentially a cupcake by default. But Somdev really, REALLY did not play like one. I don't know if there's any gooey, moist cupcake in the world anywhere in the world who can serve at 75%. Them's some good numbers, yo.

Devvarman was ranked #100 the last time I checked... which, to be fair, was round about the same time as the Commonwealth Games, so it's a while. I assume it's changed a bit. But no matter where he's ranked, I feel pretty confident in saying that he is going to move up soon. He's playing with real confidence right now - with teeth, in fact. He's sinking them into matches and, like a tiger shark, not letting go. Rafa got him in straights today, but they were tight ones. A little experience was all Somdev was needing - Rafa won both sets on a crucial break right at the end. If he plays a few more tournaments the way he played this one, Somdev won't give up those breaks any more.

Roger had the one cupcake left in his haggis vindaloo draw... though you wouldn't have been able to tell. Harrison plays differently from Devvarman - his style is less 'sink your teeth in' and more 'I HAVE NO FEAR'. Aside from a few opening nerves, he appeared almost wholly undaunted by the situation. Federer, who is capable of winning cupcake-y factors on daunt factor alone, was a little taken by surprise with this, I think. Harrison is only eighteen years old (I think... he's a teenager anyway), but he demonstrated both today and yesterday against Milos Raonic that he's capable of playing at a much higher level than his age. He has the emotional maturity, I think, that a lot of juniors are lacking. Or that's what it looked like to me, anyway.

These two cupcakes, even though they both lost in straights, both put up excellent performances. The same can not be said for Vile Troicki, who is supposed to be a good player and who got sent to the bakery by Djokovic. Djokovic is playing amazingly at the moment - ain't no one gonna deny that - but for serious, Viktor? That's just silly.

Also silly was the fact that I was right - Gasquet really is a bit of a contender in this tournament, capable of stringing wins together against anyone if he doesn't think too hard and no one's looking. Despite what I said yesterday, I fully expected him to lose today. I think Andy Roddick did too, so the result came as a bit of a rude shock...

Karlovic, Robredo and del Potro all came through in the cupcake half of Rafa, while Stan Wawrinka will join Gasquet and Djokovic in Roger's haggis vindaloo side. I was super pleased with Stan's results today. I'm not going to be surprised if he enters the top ten again this year. I will also not be surprised if Berdych leaves it. Will anyone?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Haggis Vindaloo

If the top half of the draw is cupcakes, then the bottom half is... what's something that's really difficult to eat? Something so full of chilli and spices that you can barely swallow without choking. Vindaloo. Or maybe haggis or tripe. We have eight dudes left in this section and there's only one who I don't think has a chance at the final.

That dude is Ryan Harrison, who prevailed over Milos Raonic. This is not to say that this was not a fantastic win for him, because, hello, it was. (Sidebar - I can't believe we're talking about beating Raonic as a major victory. Wasn't he nobody like five seconds ago?) But despite this, I don't think he's up to playing with the big boys quite yet. Soon, but not yet.

The biggest boys are, of course, Federer and Djokovic, who will play a tantalising semi final if it comes to it (and oh, oh, OH would it be sweet if Federer were to break that Djokovic streak! That would not be haggis AT ALL), but there are many obstacles in the way before then. With the exception of Harrison, every other dude in this half is a contender.

Let's have a look, shall we? (Sorry, no guest blogger today - dudes in this half do not have the cupcake-y luxury that Rafa is currently enjoying.) Aside from Federer and Djokovic, we have two other top ten players in Berdych and Roddick. I wouldn't be putting my money on other of these dudes, but they are more than capable of making it to the final if things go their way. I wouldn't say either of them is in their bestest form ever at the moment, but you make it to the final eight in this half, then you have a little something going on. You are probably not... a cupcake. You are meaty. You are weighty. You stick to the ribs. And you're not going down easy. You are like vindaloo. Vindaloo made with haggis.

Just outside the top ten we have Stan Wawrinka, and if you saw what he did to Andy Roddick at the Australian Open, you know just how much Stanley is capable of. Of course, he could just as easily be totally flat, but if Stan is on... well, he's made a Masters final before, that's all I'm saying.

And then you have Troicki. While I would rather eat eight family size portions of haggis vindaloo than see him make the final, it's not outside the realms of possibility.

And then, perhaps most interestingly, you have Gasquet. I thought about including him with Harrison, because I think it would be very unlikely for him to come through to the final here. Reeshie is not a dude who does well with haggis vindaloo - though, ironically, it might be better for him to be in this tough side than off eating cupcakes, because sometimes I think he's allergic to them. Playing a hot chilli dude lets Richou know that he has to come out and play well. If he's playing a cupcake, he can get all over confident, all 'oh yeah man, I love cupcakes!' and before you know it he's lost and you're cleaning up the puke.

So yes, I think Gasquet has a tiny chance of making the final. He's got Safin-esque levels of inconsistency, but as far as pure talent goes, he's in my top ten. And sometimes, that pure talent can get you places - like a fluke tournament run. And if Ivan Ljubicic can win this title, then anything can happen.

This is definitely the more intriguing half of the draw. There are no byes here. While the other side is possibly the most predictable since tennis began - Juan Martin del Potro is the only possible dud cupcake over there, the only one who could mess up Rafa's parade - this side is anyone's. Except Harrison's. He's not quite haggis vindaloo yet. Sometimes the draw gods work in very, very mysterious ways.

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?


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.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Double Damage

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand... we're back beyond the baseline! Jodi is back behind her computer, Indian Wells is a-going on and there is lots to see and do. Let us get started. No further ado. Except to say a quick congrats to Amer Delic for winning the Sarajevo Challenger. Even if he did beat my beloved Nicolas Mahut, he is a feelgood winner and no mistake.

Indian Wells has it all going on in singles, but it really has it going on in doubles. If I'm a regular doubles player - a Nestor or a Bryan or a Zimonjic or someone like that - I'm not liking Indian Wells too much at all, because all these singles dudes have turned up (nine of the top ten, in fact) and they're winning. Lots of people talk about how doubles shouldn't be considered singles' wussy little sibling, but when singles players can do this kind of damage...

...okay, not opening that can of worms. We still have Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray active in doubles, not to mention Melzer and Petzschner (awesome singles players and Wimbledon champs), Benneteau and Gasquet (talented Frenchies), Dolgopolov and Malisse (who knows what could happen?) and, oh yeah, the Bryans. This doubles draw is literally anyone's game - unless you happen to be a seeded doubles team, like Nestor and Mirnyi or Fyrstenberg and Matkowski. Then you are pretty much shit out of luck.

If a duo like the Bryans or Paes and Bhupathi (or even the Indo-Pak Express) can come through and win this one, I will be a) very surprised, but mostly b) really, really impressed, because this has got to be one of the best damn doubles draws of all time. It's literally unpickable. The one pick I'm going to make is that no one will do double duty and win both singles and doubles. The draws here are too deep and tough for that. (Watch me be proven wrong. Hopefully by Federer, but probably by Djokovic. Unappetising idea.)

Of course, if Andy Murray doesn't do well in doubles, then we could have a worse collapse than last year on our hands. We might already - losing to Donald Young in singles? Andy, dude. I don't like you, but Donald Young? Doubles could be a great morale booster, and having his doubles-experienced (and Slam-winning) brother by his side should be an asset - but in a doubles draw like this, who knows what could happen?

With the exception of Murray - and Ferrer, if we're going that deep - we're still on track for a highly-seeded set of later rounds in the singles. I have Nadal winning in my bracket, and I'm really interested to see if he can make it happen - of course, I would love to be wrong and see R-Fed pull out the victory, but I have a Rafa-type feeling on this one. If he's fully fit, then I like Rafa to beat just about anyone. This is obviously a very contentious claim, on account of how he is #1 in the world. But we shall see, we shall see.

Let's just put it this way - I would be very, very surprised if we saw someone like Ivan Ljubicic win this year. It just doesn't feel like that kind of year. Indian Wells this year feels oddly... significant. I don't know, maybe I'm just making that up. But it feels weighty, it feels meaningful, and the results from here and Miami could really (unlike last year) set the tone for the next few months.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Auto-Update 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Yeah, I know I said I'd be back again today, but I lied. Off you go. Go enjoy the world's greatest doubles tournament - I mean, Indian Wells. A very serious singles event. Oh yes.

(And spare a thought for Nico Mahut, who had a bunch of match points but couldn't quite pull it off against Amer Delic in Sarajevo. Sadface.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Return of Auto-Update

Off having a life today (read: visiting my family). Back with Indian Wells and Sarajevo and all kinds of cool stuff tomorrow.

(Nicolas Mahut is in the Sarajevo semis! If you're going to skip Indian Wells, Nico, skip it good.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tapping the Well in Indian Wells

Well, we've kept Nicolas Mahut (yay!) even though he has come down with some flu-y symptoms that led to him pulling out of doubles in Sarajevo. Here is hoping that he feels better, because if he's not going to play Indian Wells, I want him to win this whole damn tournament. He pulled out the win ove Roberto Batista-Agut today, and here's hoping he can do the same against Jan Hernych tomorrow.

This is especially because we've now lost the top two seeds, leaving Nico, at #3, the highest man standing. Dimitrov went out in the first round and then Kavcic followed him in the second, going down to Martin Fischer. Kavcic had a pretty big weekend of Davis Cup duty - he pretty much led Slovenia to victory - but then, Fischer wasn't exactly a slouch playing for Austria, so go figure. That is tennis. Sometimes you get weird results.

I really, really wish that Nico had gone to play Indian Wells qualies. I think he definitely would have had a great shot at qualifying. But it's all about points, points, points, and considering he dropped ten places last week, I guess I understand.

There are some familiar faces among the dudes that did qualify in Indian Wells, and three of them are Australian, which is a little bit awesome. Matt Ebden beat Izak van der Merwe to qualify, which is a good win, and he'll face Mischa Zverev in the first round, which is not the most unwinnable of matches. Ebden is 23, which seems a little late to be making a major breakthrough, but he has been playing better and better and better consistently over the last year or so. I think he can definitely break into the top hundred and results like these are good ways of getting there.

One dude who has been to the top hundred and is looking to get back is Chris Guccione, who also fought his way into the main draw. He beat a dude of whom I have never heard, but I wish I had, on account of he has an awesome name - Spain's Daniel Munoz-De La Nava (how is that not the name of a volcano or something like that? I love it.) Guccione hit 17 aces, which... wow. If he has that big lefty serve cranking, watch out world. He's drawn James Blake in the first round, which could be a very interesting match up indeed.

The last of the Aussie qualifiers, a man who has all the talent to be in the top hundred but sometimes not the consistency (but that's getting better), is Marinko Matosevic. He beat South African Raven Klaasen (another awesome name - this dude seems to be popping more and more in draws, so he must be on the improve), but has got arguably the toughest first round draw of the Aussie boys - he'll face Dr Ivo Karlovic, just a week after that record-breaking serve. If he can get a read on the serve, he has a chance, if not...

This is a great result for Australian tennis, having these three dudes go through. Also spare a thought for Greg Jones, who fell in the last round of qualies to Somdev Devvarman. None of these dudes are megastars, but they're good, quality players. Australian mens' tennis is not quite in the epic black hole everyone seems to think it is. The well is not as shallow as once it was.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Miss Sarajevo (go to Indian Wells instead)

Another quick one today! But it won't rhyme and I might actually say something of substance. More substantial than yesterday, at any rate. There really is precious little to write about at the moment, and it might remain that way until Indian Wells starts. But not long now!

Those who aren't trying their luck in Indian Well qualies are mostly in Sarajevo for a Challenger. (A Challenger without a scoreboard, which makes it fiendishly difficult to follow.) Among them is my main man Nicolas Mahut, who has dropped ten places in the rankings (sadface), but is still in the top hundred. He's seeded #3 and he beat Frederik Nielsen in straight sets in a rematch of their third round qualies match at the Australian Open. He's play Roberto Batista-Agut next, whom I clearly know a lot about. He is the next Bogomolov to me, just you wait.

Anyway. The reason Nico dropped those ten ranking places is because he failed to defend his Cherbourg title. (Though he did make the final, so ten places seems a little extreme... but that's just what the mobility level is like once you're out of the top thirty or so, I guess.) The guy that beat him, Grigor Dimitrov, had a typical first round comedown, losing to Karol Beck. This means he gets no points for the tournament as well as no chance to possibly make the main draw in Indian Wells, so I bet he's rueing that decision.

On the other hand, though, if he'd played Indian Wells, he would have had to play a match basically right after stumbling off an intercontinental flight, and that sounds like a pretty tall order. So maybe a week of rest will turn out for the best for Grigor.

If the seeds hold true, the match of the week will be in the semis, when Mahut means Kavcic. I've written a little about Kavcic before - I saw him play at the Australian Open and I was super impressed. I see a big future for him in this sport, and so this match could be an absolute cracker if Mahut brings it. Also lurking in the top half is Dmitry Tursunov, and if nothing else, he is always, always watchable.

The field in Sarajevo is quite good, and looking at Indian Wells, I think all four of these guys - Dimitrov, Kavcic, Mahut and Tursunov - would have had a great shot to qualify. I suppose it's an object lesson that you go where the points are, and you're probably more likely to pick up points by going deep in a Challenger than just making the first round of a Masters tournament, but still... I would have liked to see those dudes there. The top seed in Indian Wells is Daniel Brands, followed by Somdev Devvarman and (the already knocked out) Robert Kendrick. I think any of the top four seeds in Sarajevo would have had a field day with the draws here. Some of the guys through already are Tim Smyczek and Rik de Voest, and... really?

But it's a points game, I suppose. And that's what's going to get you into the main draw all on your lonesome.

(In other news, I've got another blog! Tennis is one of my passions, but theatre is another - you can read my reviews here.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Road Is Paved With Them

You know the days
When there's nothing to say
There's nothing even to mention
When nothing's occurred
And you can't write a word
Despite the best of intentions?

Today is that day
So I'll go away
And think of something for tomorrow
(Please let there be stuff!
Because it's quite rough
Writing nothing - what woe! oh, what sorrow!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Highly Educated Look At Things I Know A Lot About

There is not so much to report today. We're in that brief no man's land between the Davis Cup weekend and Indian Wells where fat nothing happens. So what I thought we might do is have a quick snappy look at the dudes who won Challengers over the weekend. Are you cool with that? You better be, because that's what I'm doing.

In Cherbourg, much to my chagrin, it was not defending champion Nicolas Mahut to took away the trophy, but young Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. As a result, Dimitrov leaps up the rankings ten spots while Mahut goes down ten (but he's still in the top hundred, fear not!) Dimitrov is the latest player, as we all know, to be touted as the second coming of Roger Federer... but while we have the first one I don't really see the necessity of a second. Dimitrov's strokes are so closely modelled on Roger's that it's uncanny. And if there's a model you want to take, Federer is not a bad one...

...but I heard Jim Courier say once that unless you develop your own style, there's not much out there for you. I'd like to see Dimitrov move in his own direction a little. Sure, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and his Federerness is clearly working for him, because hello, he just won Cherbourg, but I'd like to see something in the mix that is pure Grigor. And I think it'll come too - what's the attraction in being a carbon copy of another dude when you can be yourself? The Federer strokes will provide a great base for Dimitrov to build on, provided he's prepared to get his hands dirty and build a beautiful house. The house is a tennis player. This metaphor is bad.

In Dallas, the tournament where all the Australians thought it would be a good idea to go for some reason, we saw Alex Bogomolov Jr take away the title. Here is all the things I know about Alex Bogomolov Jr:




As you can see, I am supremely well informed about this young man and all his prospects. I'm going to stick with 'well done' - particularly as he beat Rainer Schuettler in the final, and Schuettler, while he might be past it now, has been to a Grand Slam final in his day - and give a big shout out to Matt Ebden, who made the semis, and lost to this Alex Bogomolov Jr character in three tight sets. It's only a matter of time before Ebden starts winning these tournaments, I think - he gets better and better every time I see him play.

And then in Salinas, Andres Moltini was the winner. You know how much I knew about Alex Bogomolov Jr (ie. his name and nothing else)? I know even less about Moltini. I'd never even heard of him before this week. But he's clearly doing something right, because he just won in Salinas. And he upset top seed Brian Dabul to do it, so well done Andres. May you continue Moltini-ing on for the rest of your days.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A F%^& YEAH Weekend

There are so many people I want to say F%^& YEAH about today, but first, I have to blow your mind with the last installment of my Cherbourg coverage. It was not good times today - my main man Mahut lost both in the singles final and in the doubles final. But let's take a moment and go, hey, actually, the fact that you were in both of these finals is pretty damn shiny! Then let's holler F^&* YEAH.

My loudest, unconditional and most heartfelt F^&* YEAH, however, has to go out to Jelena Dokic. Lady, you rocked my freaking socks today. How many players are there who can go for eight years without a title and still have the heart to come back? Dokic is a player who has had an awful lot of bad luck in her career - more, I think, than just about anyone else. But one thing she does not lack, especially in this post-Damir world, is heart. And she demonstrated this not just in winning the Kuala Lumpur final, but the way she won it - she was literally a few points from defeat in the second set breaker. She could have gone down tamely in straights, and everyone would have been like, oh well, well done Lucie, what a great week for Jelena.

But no. Jelena Dokic is not having any of that nonsense. She clawed her way out of that breaker and then she pounced. She was a total third set tiger and that got her the trophy. And I don't think it's controversial to say that Jelena has one of the best smiles in tennis. F^&* YEAH JELENA DOKIC!

And then there is Davis Cup.

The Indian boys weren't able to keep the momentum going - they went down 4-1 to Serbia in the end - but I think they deserve a F^&* YEAH anyway, because they have played awesomely this weekend. So too does Jeremy Chardy, who went from not winning a single ATP match all year to being France's Davis Cup hero. I'm not normally a massive Chardy fan, but that kind of heroism (especially from someone stuck so deep in such a big rut) deserves a F^&* YEAH.

But the biggest Davis Cup F^&* YEAH goes to Kazakhstan in general and Andrey Golubev in particular.

I haven't talked much about Andrey this year - largely because his results haven't been that great. (But don't worry, I haven't dumped him for Mahut. I can love them both.) But this match was a powerful reminder of why I love him so much. If he plays well, he is capable not just of beating anyone, but of freaking demolishing them. Doesn't matter where, doesn't matter when, doesn't matter who. If Andrey Golubev has his eye in, he will make you hurt.

Just ask Tomas Berdych.

The Czech crowd were totally stunned. Who was this surprise ranga beating their main man? Berdych was their guaranteed pointmaker for the weekend! He was supposed to win both his singles matches in a snap of his fingers, and just hope that one of the others could pick up another point somewhere. It was supposed to be easy.

But Andrey Golubev was not on board with this idea at all. And four sets later, Tomas Berdych limped off the court, pulverised and broken. And then Mikhail Kukushkin went out there and made history against Jan Hajek.

This was Kazakhstan's first ever appearance in the World Group. If they can continue turning in these kinds of performances, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with. And I, for one, think that deserves a F%^& YEAH.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Indian Summer

I suppose I should talk about Davis Cup today. But in another installment of my mindblowing Cherbourg coverage, can I get a F%^& YEAH NICOLAS MAHUT? He is in the final there, where he will meet top seed Grigor Dimitrov. Nico won this tournament last year, so for points purposes, I would really like him to win it again, but I am very happy that he's a finalist full stop. My man Nico is on fire, and don't you forget it.

Right. Davis Cup.

The most interesting tie - to my mind, anyway - is this one between Serbia and India. From the outset, you might think that this is the most boring of all the ties - I know I certainly did. But even though the Serbs are pretty much on top now, the Indian dudes have BROUGHT IT like whoa. And without Bhupathi and Paes, which is a massive handicap.

Let's recap. Day One singles, first rubber. Viktor 'vile' Troicki lines up against Rohan Bopanna, whom he is expected to beat easily. Troicki is not exactly the captain of the consistency bandwagon, but this looks like an easy one for him. Right?


Bopanna takes him to five. It all seems smooth sailing for the first two sets, but the worm, oh, how it turns! This match so, SO easily could have gone Bopanna's way. And we all know how I feel about Troicki, so I wish it did.

Oh well. It's only natural for a team to get the yips a little, n'est-ce pas? And Serbia came away with the point anyway, so surely we are headed right down 5-0 blowout lane from here. Right?


Janko Tipsarevic walks out on court against Somdev Devvarman. And walks off three sets later a defeated man.

Would that be 1-all? Why YES, it would be. And it so, so easily could have been 2-0 India. A few points Bopanna's way, and...

The Serbs pulled out the doubles on Saturday, but it was a tight, tight thing - 12-10 in the fourth set tiebreaker. And you really, really have to wonder what would have happened if Bhupathi and Paes had been there...

This is basically an object lesson in don't underestimate the underdog. I think the Serbians have been that underdog for so long that adjusting to being the top dudes might have messed with them again. And much as they love the home crowd, probably playing in Serbia - after what happened the last time they played in Serbia - was intense, intense pressure. Last time it was glory, and now the populace expects no less.

But let's be realistic. This one wasn't all on the Serbian racquet. The Indian dudes have played OUT OF THEIR FREAKING MINDS awesome. Bopanna and Devvarman have a lot to be proud of here. And you know what? It's not over yet. And I, for one, will be cheering for Team India all the way.

The other really intriguing tie going on is Croatia vs Germany, where Marin Cilic pulled out an absolute heartbreaker against Florian Mayer only to have Germany take the next two points. But Croatia, with their singles team of Cilic and Dodig, are more than capable of getting two points on the morrow by taking out Kohlschreiber and Mayer respectively... we shall see, we shall see. Oh, and Karlovic beat that fast serve record of Andy Roddick's. Well done, Dr Ivo.

Disappointment of the Davis Cup week is obviously Russia. What an awful performance. Kudos to him for pulling out the win, but no one should really be losing to Joachim Johansson right now. (Out of interest, why didn't Sweden field Nick Lindahl? I thought that was, like, the whole reason he defected.)

Oh, and before I go - MASSIVE shoutout to Jelena Dokic, who is in the final of Kuala Lumpur, where she will take on Lucie Safarova. This is a crazy-excellent result and I hope she is SUPER proud!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Remember Me, Your Old Friend Auto-Update?

No blog today, as I am hanging out in Melbourne with Dootsiez, the always-blogger, and PJ, the sometimes-blogger, from All I Need Is A Picket Fence. Catch you tomorrow.

PS. Mahut is in the Cherbourg semis! Is your mind blown yet?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yes, He Killed Kenny

I do believe that I promised to (and I quote) 'blow your mind' with my Cherbourg coverage. So I better do that. And I think that involves me... talking about Cherbourg. So what can I make up - I mean, say - today!

Important things first - Nicolas Mahut is through to the next round. Yes, he may have scraped through by the skin of his teeth, but a win is a win and I'd rather he took a tight win than a tight loss. Or any kind of loss. A third set breaker is there to determine the winner and the loser and this time he was the winner.

And yes, he killed Kenny (de Schepper).

One thing that always astonishes me about Mahut is how consistent he can be on first serve. His percentage is, in general, really, really freaking high. There's a ton of players who would amputate a limb if it meant they could regularly serve at 71%... which doesn't seem that high, but it, you know, is. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising after the whole 'why yes, John Isner, I think I will hold serve 68 times in a row' incident that happened last year, but I'm still impressed. He won 79% of first serve points as well today, which is pretty bloody good.

...although he did get taken to a third set breaker, so maybe I shouldn't be extolling his wonderment in a match where he probably didn't play his best. Though I can't be sure, on account of how I didn't see it and I'm talking about something I know zero about. But still!

Nico's doubles partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin (how many vaseline jokes do you think he gets? per day, on average?) was not so lucky, going down to Karol Beck in straights. But Stephane Robert flew that French flag high, coming up with a W against 'my name is also' Stefan Seifert.

...yeah, you can see how much I know about those dudes. HEAPS.

And the French dude who won his way to my heart through stupid trickshots is also out. Benoit Paire just went down. Pout. I want good things to happen to him.

We're on track for a Dimitrov/Mahut final, which could be anyone's game... depending who turns up. Both these dudes are capable of going Ferd and pulling out performances so terrible they make you want to cry. But then they can both (definitely) go the other way as well, so we'll see.

And at some point, I hope to actually watch a match at Cherbourg. Imagine how mindblowing my coverage will be then!