Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Also, GO ROGER. I am not so distracted that I cannot see how AWESOMELY you are playing. Even if you do not win another match and do not break the Dread Streak of Bert, you have done better than last year and, as far as I'm concerned, are ROCKING THE HIZZOUSE. Rock on, Mr Federpants.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
There is something about the women's draw at Roland Garros which reminds me of the Australian election last year. Not so much that there are two main contenders or anything, because there's clearly not. Rather, there's a sense of wide-open-ness, of total unpredictability. And as the top seeds continue to fall, it seems like the time is right for a leadership spill.
We lost Kim Clijsters to a wonderful come-from-behind victory from Arantxa 'no, not that Arantxa' Rus; and now Daniela Hantuchova has unceremoniously turfed out Caro Wozniacki in easy, easy straights. Given the wide-open-ness of the draw and particularly given the draw of Clijsters, one might be forgiven for assuming that the path to a Slam for C-Woz was paved with rainbows and glory. But not to be, not to be. Whoever wins the women's draw is going to be both predictable and unpredictable at the same time – we can comfortably predict a surprise.
But then, we could probably do that before the tournament anyway. There's no frontrunner, no Chief Coterie of Awesome. In a way, there couldn't be a leadership spill in the WTA, because who exactly would be the K-Rudd to the spiller's Julia?
It's not like the men, where of the big guys, Rafa is cruising, Creme Brole is locked in a tense battle carried over to tomorrow with JMDP, and Roger (bless his cotton be-RFed socks) is cruising through under the radar. If one of that lot doesn't win this tournament – in fact, even if Roger does win it – then we will have a big f*cking surprise on our hands. But in the women's draw, we have no surprise and all the surprises all at once.
Yes, I am still jetlagged. This may be why that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Match of the day was supposed to be Djokovic/del Potro, but I don't know if you can really call it that, given as they only got two sets in before dark. Tomorrow for them will be a best of three sets shoot out, and while you have to like Creme Brole to win, I don't think anyone's counting big Juan M out of this one. Whoever wins, you have to like them to overcome Richou in the next round, so we pretty much have our quarter finalist right here... this is a tough, tough third round match. Come back to the top ten, Juan. We need you there.
Match of the day actually ended up being Jo-W's loss from a seemingly impregnable position to My Friend Stanley, who obviously wants to spend some more time on court hanging out with his beloved Roge. Rafa isn't going to be happy about this, mark my words... he's already flown in Other Lopez to be his back up bro. Speaking of Spaniards, David Ferrer is going through this draw like a knife, and whichever Swiss he faces in the quarters (I don't know who he plays in the fourth round, but I assume he'll beat them), he'll give a very rough time to. He is playing really awesome right now. Awesome-r, one might claim, than Rafa, who appears to have sent Shmafa along to play the first two rounds. All this said, the proof will be in the pudding... the pudding made of clay and tennis balls and next Sunday and the Coupe de Mousquetaires.
I'm going to stop writing now. It's obvious that I am in a delirious place. GO ROGER.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Short one today, as I am actively in transit (on my way to Canada for a conference. It is a REALLY LONG WAY.) But we cannot leave it without writing about Rafa.
Rafa. 'Sup, dude?
On any other surface, I would not be surprised to see Isner take Rafa to five. With that serve, it is what he does. But on clay...? with Isner playing as not-well as he's been playing recently... yeah. 'Sup, Rafa?
I have an awful feeling that Rafa is going to go crashing out early. I don't have much to base this on, but there seems to be something a little demoralised about him at the moment. It's not that he's losing to Djokovic, it's... I don't know what it is. Something is not right, to quote Miss Clavell of Madeline fame. Maybe it's just in my head. But I'm keeping my eye on you, Rafa-boy.
On the flipside, maybe a tough five setter to get him into the groove was what he needed. But I doubt somehow that when he was two sets to one down against a dude that serves from a tree that he was thinking 'oh my, a tough five setter, what larks and funnage!'
And before I go and catch another plane – Andy Murray is looking good. I never thought I'd say that after the Aussie Open this year, especially on clay, but he's looking good. Not winning the tournament good, but... good. Well done, Ahndee.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I am sure I am not the only one to have dreamt up this hilarious sylleptical play on words about Tomas Berdych's loss. But that doesn't make his loss any less... stupid.
I said it yesterday (about something else) and I'll say it again – is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Was Tomas Berdych seriously two sets up over French journeyman Stephane 'SteveBob' Robert before losing? Was he also up a break in the fifth? What has happened?
I can't say I'm especially sad about this turn of events – not only is it always a bit exciting to see a home-grown journeyman like SteveBob pull out the goods, I'm not exactly Big Berd's biggest fan. But considering he made, what, semis here last year? This is a dreadful result. The top ten really is in a state of flux right now. People talk about the decline of Federer, but one feels like they're not looking at the players ranked directly below him. Get down in the #6-10 range and it's getting hard to find someone who can keep the ball in the freaking court.
Before 2010, Tomas Berdych was thought of as a missed opportunity – an immense talent who never came good. And then suddenly it seemed like he did come good but making Roland Garros semis and the Wimbledon final and generally playing awesomesauce. But... yeah. I can't help thinking that Berdych might yet go down in the history books as a flash in the pan yet.
Let us spare a moment, however, to completely ignore the downfall of Big Berd and heap congratulations on SteveBob. That is some mental toughness right there. You do not beat a top ten player – much less one to whom you are two sets down – without a heart the size of a planet and a mind made of steel. Keep it up, SteveBob. And may your fellow French journeyman Monsieur Nicolas Mahut play as awesomely as you.
Berdych was the big upset of the day – mostly, the usual suspects made it through. Djokovic was in cruise control and Federer played some seriously good stuff to come up with the goods against Feliciano Lopez. The women were mostly pretty staid as well, apart from Anastasia Rodionova upsetting Nadia Petrova. I'd say something about it... but I can't think of anything to say, so let's just leave it.
The other name to go crashing out, though, was Milos Raonic, who went down right at the end of the day. Somewhere, Fernando Verdasco is cackling...
Monday, May 23, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
OH MY GOD.
PARAGRAPHS. TODAY'S BLOG POST WILL HAVE THEM.
I don't know if I'm back to daily yet, but I am going to attempt to cover Roland Garros in a vaguely normal way. I cannot promise anything, because I am, like, GOING TO CANADA on Wednesday, and I'll be a bit busy doing such things as presenting papers and touring Prince Edward Island, but I will make an effort to keep in touch with what is going on in the tennis world. Hey, maybe the tennis timezone issue will be better.
When I chose the leaving date for my job, I deliberately chose May 20 so I could stay up late and watch/listen to Roland Garros. This whole Canada thing has messed up that plan a bit, but I am so excited about the lack of obligation that being functionally unemployed/subsisting on scholarship will contain!
I've been out of touch with the actual tennis for so long that I can't offer any kind of insightful commentary on what will happen and who's in form and who's not. I heard something about this Djokovic kid. Apparently he's good. And he's, like, winning and stuff.
So the question is, can he win the French Open? The answer is, of course he can. We all know this. It's been within the realms of possibility for a few years now. Will he? is of course an entirely differently question. And the answer remains to be seen.
The Djokovic streak is tennis's current freight train, and I'm not sure who is equipped to break it right now. I can see a future wherein Djokovic wins the French Open, but I just don't know if I'm feeling it. Is this wishful thinking? Probably. He is the form player coming in and...
Yeah, it probably is wishful thinking. And I really wouldn't be surprised if he ends up #1 after this tournament. All he has to do is make the final. He has a tough draw, but who can stand against him at the moment?
The story that's being told is obviously Djokovic vs Nadal, and it would be very fitting if this was the final we got. But maybe it's just because I'm out of touch with tennis, but I feel like we might not get this final. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see two randoms in the final. Nadal is not playing his best, and he has Soderling - his Roland Garros bugbear - near him in the draw. And if his body gives out, well...
Djokovic looks unstoppable, because he's been winning. And with winning comes a f^&*load of tennis. Can he sustain it over this amount of time? Can a diet change really do so much? Maybe. Probably. But...
Yeah. I have a niggling feeling that this could be a Roland Garros of astounding upsets. Hopefully Federer will dole them out, but I always hope he wins. On what am I basing this? Nothing. But when there's a Mahut vs Haas final, you heard it here first.
(PS. Mahut has a draw which I think is eminently winnable. ALLEZ NICO!)
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
I don't normally pay Novak many compliments, on the grounds that I find him deeply, desperately irritating, but kudos have to be given for this tear that he's on. He is playing absolutely, outstandingly well. MC Hammer 'can't touch this' well. Even if you're Rafa, and it's clay, and it's Spain.
That's what's crossed the line from awesome to scary for me - beating Rafa in Spain on clay. Sure, Rafa played like poo in this match, but that's not taking anything away from how scarily well Djokovic played - and is playing. He's got just about every player I can think of in the world on a string at the moment. He's figured out everyone and everything and his game is - well, there aren't really words for how well he's playing at the moment.
The one thing I'm worried about, if I'm Novak, is not Roland Garros coming up, but Rome. If I'm him, I'm seriously considering skipping. Winning means playing a lot of tennis, and Novak's played a lot of tennis lately. He's won the Djokovic Open and now Madrid, and it's not a stretch to think that he might win Rome as well. So going into Roland Garros, he'd be on a winning streak, but he'd also be on 'I have played unbelievable amounts of tennis' streak. We saw what happened to Rafa in 2009 at Roland Garros (though, to be fair, he did also play Monte Carlo as well). That's not the way Novak wants to go down.
And then if he plays Rome and loses, that's a big downer right there. Losing to Rafa in the final of Madrid would have been one thing - losing in Rome another thing entirely. The last thing you want going into a Slam is a comedown.
So yeah. It's an interesting one. Time will tell, I guess.
I think Rafa's going to take a long hard look at himself after this match. I think we're going to see a new energy with him. I read somewhere this morning that Rafa plays better as the hunter than the hunted, and I think that's totally true. He's going to feel like the underdog after this match, and that's just where he wants to be. If he plays Novak again in Rome, I will be veeeeeeeery interested to see who comes out on top...
(I hope it's Federer!)
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
If Roger Federer had found a few spare seconds to, oh, I don't know, beat Feliciano Lopez without it taking a hundred hours, it might have been significantly better for my blood pressure. As always, the fact that it took him more than twelve games to beat someone means that it is the End of his Career and He Will Never Win Anything Again Ever Because He Is Old And Irrelevant So There. It seems perfectly obvious... to a bunch of strange tennis critics who could look at a cloud and somehow see in it a sign of Federer's demise.
Personally - although it was a stress-y, stress-y match from a fan perspective - I don't mind the Rog having to spend a while on court. He hasn't played since Monte Carlo, but you can bet he's all match tough now. Besides, F-Lo was playing awesome tennis. I know he's the Spaniard What Prefers Grass and stuff, but come on, he's Spanish. Clay is his thing. I find the fact that Federer can fight through a left handed Spanish dude on clay very satisfying.
And while I like it better when Federer just comes out and wins, it's good for him to have to fight. You never know your mettle until you're tested, and a good test every now and again does any player the world of good. Having to tough out a match like this one is character-building. And hey, instead of being match point up and losing, he was match point down and won. I know which I'd prefer.
The Djokovic train keeps rolling on, but either the Djokovic train or the Nadal train have to stop rolling this week, and I'm team Rafa on this one. (Actually, I'm team Roger, but his narrative appears to be subaltern at the moment.) I don't have my money on a finals clash - I just have a feeling that someone's a-gonna get upset before the final. Couldn't tell you who, couldn't tell you when, just a feeling.
...and that's all I have time for. Figures that the one day I get time to write, all I really write about is Federer...