Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sunshine and Roses

Yo kids! Two posts with actual paragraphs in a row, though this is going to be a short one, on account of I have no access to televised sport at the mo and cannot tell you what actual tennis actually looks like right now.

Though taking this proviso in mind and noting that I have no idea what is actually going on on court, I am super impressed with Ahndee Mooray right now.

For serious. I have never been a fan of Toothface, but it would take someone with a heart of stone not to look at a non claycourter dude who's made the semis at Wimbledon on one good foot and also gone on to make the Queen's final and not to admit a modicum of respect. There's also a modicum of 'dude, be real, Wimbledon is coming up and playing on your bum ankle is a moronic idea' but there's something about the idea of almost ridiculous chutzpah which is very appealing. Well done, Andy. Kudos.

And then there's James 'I'm so obscure I haven't even heard of myself' Ward and his semis run, only halted by a Rafa-beating Jo-W. The Brits are doing so well at Queen's that their national hopes are so high that they are destined to all lose first round at the main event. Even Ahndee. But for now, everything is sunshine and roses.

So yeah. Well done. I'm easing myself back into the blog world and cannot make many more insightful comments. Except Jo. Wow. That dude is playing RAD. That means he must be due for an injury...?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Long-Belated RG Round Up

Today I shall aim to write something with paragraphs. I'm hoping this life upheaval is a temporary thing, as far as blogging-interruptage goes, but if it goes on I might have to reconsider this whole daily thing. Though the blog isn't going anywhere! maybe just these updates going 'yeah, I'm busy'.

Anyway, the grass court season is all started and crazy and Rafa Nadal is losing to Jo-W Tsonga and Halle is getting all pissy that R-Fed never showed up and I haven't even recapped Roland Garros yet, so let's do a bit of that now. I think we can all see that - even in the wake of this random Jo loss - it is a very, very foolish person who counts Rafa Nadal out of anything. As far as form goes, I don't think anyone would call him the form player of the tournament. But he's the one that won.

For Rafa, this victory was a little like Roger's in Australia in 2006 - despite not playing particularly well, he still found a way to win. This is the hallmark of a real champ, I think - the one who finds a way even when he's not really at his best. This is the most vulnerable Rafa's looked at Roland Garros for a long time. But the place still belongs to him. It's still his house. And I don't know if we'll ever see someone this dominant on clay again.

The 'form player of the tournament' award has to go to Federer, who, despite losing in the final, really lifted his level significantly and, we cannot forget, was responsible for breaking the Djokovic streak of doom. The way people were talking before this tournament, you'd think Nole had already lifted the Coupe de Mousquetaires. Federer's victory over him - and Nadal's subsequent victory over Federer - really made it a three horse race again, I think. I would be very surprised if someone who was not one of these three won at Wimbledon.

But then, that's hardly news.

And we have to spare a thought for Andy Murray. His injury looks pretty bad and I really don't think this is going to be his year at Wimbledon; but to make it to the semis on one leg on his worst surface, including a two-sets-down comeback? Murray has a lot to be proud of here. Last year, his post-Australia rut lasted till well after Wimbledon. I think he's exorcised his demons a little earlier this year. Good on him.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Back In The Day

I remember when rock was young and I used to have time to blog every day...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bad Blogger

That is me, Jodi the Bad Blogger. I am also Jodi the Busy Blogger. These two things are related.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Like A Bee

Busy busy busy. Back soon. Sorry. I am such a bad blogger these days.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Good News

So, I've been away for a few days, but I am by no means unaware of what's going on. ROGER FEDERER YOU LITTLE BEAUTY!

Ahem.

So I can be all, like, calm and sane and stuff, let's start by discussing the women's final before I get into full Federsqueeage.

Li Na. Francesca Schiavone. There was no way this final was not going to be a good news story, unless a bolt of lightning struck the court and obliterated Philippe Chatrier stadium or something like that. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and we were treated to a match which, while not The Greatest Match Ever Played or anything like that, was well fought in a good spirit by two women who thoroughly deserved to be there.

I was pulling for Frankie to pull the double, but only slightly, because seriously, how can you not love Li Na? Despite her Australian Open run, I don't think anyone was picking her to even be a factor in this tournament - largely because she pretty much played like poo for several months there between the two Slams. But she seems to have picked up a Serena-style peaking technique, and she freaking BROUGHT IT in the final. I don't think I've ever appreciated just how BIG her forehand can be when she lets it. She can rip it and rip it hard, and I think that was what really made the difference. Frankie made a few too many errors, but a lot of them were forced.

The fact that Li Na is now Asia's first female Grand Slam champion... the importance of that for the sport cannot be overstated. This could lead to an utter explosion of popularity of the sport - effects that might be felt twenty or thirty years from now. This is massive. But let's not forget the effect for Li Na the individual either as well. Because this is - a first Slam is always - HUGE.

And speaking of huge...

ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGER FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDERER!

Seriously, I had a bit of a feeling that I did not dare articulate for fear of jinxing it. Roger Federer is THE MAN this tournament, and the fact that it took a man on a forty-odd match win streak to take a set off him says something about his level of play. When we've been hearing about Roger at all this year, it's been about how he's on the way out, on the way down, how everyone must age and fall eventually.

Well, reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Rafa is still obviously the favourite going in to the final. I mean, at Roland Garros, Rafa is going to be the favourite against anyone, whether they be a journeyman or Bjorn Borg at the top of his game. But if Roger's going to get him on the Paris clay, he'd be hardpressed to get a better opportunity. And at the end of the day, Roger is the best player ever. He is capable of beating anyone, anywhere if he plays GodFed tennis. He can do it. Whether or not he will is another matter, but it's not a question of ability.

It says something about Djokovic's streak that it took the best player ever playing godlike tennis to break it. I'm not a Djokofan and probably never will be, but it would take a crazy person to not acknowledge that what Creme Brole has achieved this year is completely outstanding. Streaks have to be broken to truly appreciate them, to put them in perspective and enable them to exist comparatively - and comparatively, this has to be one of the best streaks in the history of tennis. Well done, Novak. There is a lot of good tennis ahead of you.

But the day now belongs to the Hispano-Suisse domination machine - the two men to whom the recent era of tennis truly belongs, two men who will be forever linked in history and in record books. Rafa. Roger. Like the women's final, this is all good news. No matter who wins, it's all good. And no matter who wins, tennis is guaranteed to be a huge victor on Stade Philippe Chatrier.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Few Spare Seconds

Why, why, what is this? Jodi with a few spare seconds of her life to write? Is it because she is sitting in an airport? Yes... it is.

I have been following Roland Garros - oh yes I have, even if I haven't been writing about it - but the time difference between Australia and Canada and France is so mighty that I am not quite sure when it is or what time it is anywhere. So instead of writing about the past day's play as would be my normal wont, I'm just going to write a little more generally over what's going on. Specifically, about the major players.

If we were giving out scores on a report card for a tournament so far, despite the fact that he is flying under the radar and is not the favourite to win - in fact, he is being almost actively counted out - you have to give Roger Federer the highest marks so far. Being not the rose but near the rose has done him no end of good. He has been imperious so far this tournament, with shades of the godlike Federer we know is in there. People have said that he is ageing, that he is past it, but that tennis is still there. And if he plays it... I don't think there is anyone that can stand against him.

The question is, can he play it? Will he play it? If he brings it against Novak Djokovic, and Djokovic continues to play in the way that has won him this epic streak... that has the potential to be one of the greatest matches of our time. If Federer plays his ultimate tennis, I'm going to pick him every time, no matter who the opponent, no matter the place, no matter the time. But a) even so, Djokovic is a tough match and b) will Djokovic let him play his best stuff?

Djokovic is the next best performer, his Roland Garros report card marred only by the set lost in the tough tussle with Juan Martin del Potro. The biggest question with him so far is how he will be affected by the long break in the middle of the tournament, given the withdrawal of Fabio 'Captain Controversy' Fognini. Personally, I don't think it will affect him that much, given that beating FabFog probably would have taken him all of four seconds anyway. He's probably the betting favourite for the tournament, and there's a reason for that.

But now he has to face Federer. A Federer who he's playing like he did back in the day. A Federer who used to administer admonishing swats to Djokovic's figurative backside. (Australian Open '07, anyone?) It's a match that I'm not going to pick, but honestly? the man that wins this match will probably win the tournament.

This is a harsh thing to say given that Rafa is still in the draw. But we all know what's going on there. He's not playing with confidence, he got taken to five in the first round, he's depressed, he's pessimistic, he's down on himself, he doesn't have the essential Rafa-ness that so oftened surrounds him like a cloud of glory at Roland Garros. And now he has to play Soderling, the man that dished him out that one defeat here... even if Rafa did smash him like a guitar in last year's final.

But you know what? Rafa's still there. He may not be playing well, but he's still fighting. And even though I did it, what, two paragraphs ago? it would be a very foolish person who would bet against the mighty R Nadal at Roland Garros.

The one 'big' contender left who really isn't a contender is poor wounded badger Andy Murray. He has about 0.00000000001% chance of winning the tournament, considering a) he ain't no claycourter and b) he is injured like whoa. And yet I have somehow gained more cred for Andy Murray in this tournament than I have for a long time. To be playing on virtually one leg and to come back from two sets down against Viktor 'vile minion of Bert' Troicki... well, that was impressive. And if he can come through Chela and make it to the semis... that is very, very impressive stuff from an injured non-claycourter.

Of course, given how close Wimbledon is, is it smart? Maybe not. But it is brave. And I guess I just find that very, very appealing.

And before I go, a few words on the women's tournament - FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE FOR QUEEN OF THE WORLD. If she repeats her 2010 victory, I will be very, very glad.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not Like This

Blogging-wise, Wimbledon will be better. Promise.

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

Far Far Away

Still in a land far far away (aka Canada, getting my academic on). Back soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dreamweaver, Timestealer

Let's face it, I'm not going to get any tennis writing done while I'm in Canada. This whole 'being at a conference' lark has really stolen all my time. I'm sorry, Roland Garros! I am following you! I do love you! And I hope you've put Albert Montanes on suicide watch!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Distracted

Yeah, so this whole 'being overseas' and 'recovering from jet lag' thing is distracting. But I promise things will be back to normal by... Wimbledon. At the latest. Promise.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spill

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

Jet Lag

Yeah, so, this whole epic change of continents thing is not very conducive to blogging. I am keeping up with the tennis but am so freaking exhausted that writing about it is not going to happen today. Or whatever day it is. Back soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

‘Sup

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

Bye Bye Berdie

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

The Most Comprehensive of Fails

Wow. Paragraphs. Two days in the row. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
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Pity the first day of Roland Garros was so spectacularly dull. It's hardly worth writing about, but seeing as I have been so ragingly neglectful, I feel like I should. So let's see what we can come up with.
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Remember a few years ago when I picked out a few guys as Stars of the Future? Well, yeah, my track record is not the best, as it turns out. And it started so promisingly. The two prize horses in my fold, Marin Cilic and Ernests Gulbis, began - and ended - Roland Garros with an epic fail.
*
Cilic hasn't been playing well of late, and he went out in straight sets to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, who hitherto has been best known for almost beating Roger Federer one time a few years ago. Cilic has done precisely nothing this year, but still, this is not a match he should be losing. But he did. And that is all there is to say about that.
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And yet he is the less comprehensive of my fails.
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Ernests Gulbis has now lost 2o straight sets at Slam level. TWENTY. F^&*ING TWENTY. Is a single person left on that bandwagon? Seriously, what a waste of a stupendous talent. He was beaten by Blaz Kavcic, who is coming up LIKE WHOA, but that doesn't excuse anything, to tell the truth. Gulbis should be top ten, with his talent. And he's not even close. Ugh. It's... well, it's pretty much disgusting.
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Over in the ladies, the big upset of day one was Flavia Pennetta, who went out depressingly to Varvara Lepchenko. I say depressingly on account of I have no idea who Lepchenko is, and seriously, Flavs should be winning and going deep at events like this. She hasn't really been a force this year and I find this sad.
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But enough of this despair. Sam Stosur had a cracking match to win, and I am very happy about that. I don't know if there is any finals-making in her future again, but this is very good so far. Good signs.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Based On Nothing

OH MY GOD.

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PARAGRAPHS. TODAY'S BLOG POST WILL HAVE THEM.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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...

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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...

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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.

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(PS. Mahut has a draw which I think is eminently winnable. ALLEZ NICO!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coincidence?

Is it a coincidence that when Djokovic is winning I have no time to talk tennis?
...no. But it is plausible.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stop. Hammertime.

So. Um. Novak Djokovic. Yeah. He's, like, playing well and stuff. I heard. A bit well. He's, like, winning stuff. Lots of stuff. And beating people. A lot. And not losing. At all.

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

Fed Me Up

Yeah, no blog today either. I cannot adequately communicate the craziness of my life right now. But I am pleased with how Roger played in Madrid, even if he didn't win! Taking a set off Rafa is a good show on clay, whoever you are.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Under the Hammer

Still being absolutely hammered by real life. Barely have time to breathe - or check tennis scores, let alone write about them! Back soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

Managed a post yesterday (all my troubles seemed so faaaaaaaar awaaaaaaaaaaaay!) Not today, I am afraid. But I WILL BE BACK. This is a promise.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mettle (Testing Thereof)

Look! Writing! I am doing it today, I promise! I wouldn't say I'm properly back yet - I cannot communicate how madly, insanely busy I am at the moment, what with the whole being about to quit my job thing - but I have found a few spare seconds today to write about tennis.

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...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Buzz

So Madrid... that's happening.

What's not is this blog today. I am SO FREAKING BUSY. I don't even remember what 'having a life' looks like.

But I will be back. I promise.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Not So Much With The Daily

One day soon, I'll get back to that whole daily writing about tennis thing, and something interesting enough to write about will happen. For now... I offer these very dull couple of sentences.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day

It's the first of May and even if I had time, I have nothing to say. Have a great day!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Non/Anon

As you can probably tell by the frequency of these non-posts on this supposedly daily blog, I'm under the hammer of life at the moment - barely have time to think! I shall return anon.

(Three weeks till Roland Garros and the day I quit my job!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Karma's A Bitch

So a little thing known as 'nothing' happened in the tennis world today. I can't even rabbit on and on about how Nadal and Djokovic are all on streaks and stuff, because neither of them played. Sigh. I come back after my Easter break and this is how you reward me, tennis world?

I should just write about the royal wedding. But don't worry, I won't.

Um... Viktor Troicki lost at the Djokovic Open, which I bet does not make him happy at all. Not that I care very much about his emotional state on account of how I think he's a douchebag, but this is not a good sign for him going into the hardcore clay season. Sure, he lost to a Spaniard, but come on, it was Marcel 'most boring player alive' Granollers. Troicki will have to pick up his game if he wants to do anything this season.

Speaking of Spaniards, Fernando Verdasco won a match in Estoril. Excuse me while I go and fall over saying 'lawks a mercy'. To be honest, I think being out of the top ten is the best possible thing that could happen to him. Less pressure, maybe a little underdog-i-ness... couldn't hurt. Probably what he really needs is for people to stop going 'Fernando Verdasco won a match, lawks a mercy', but let's be honest... that is just not going to happen.

And also what he needs to do is not play Milos Raonic again for a while, but guess who is looming up large in that Estoril draw... This is karmic punishment for that 'real tennis' quip. You know it is.

... what else has happened?

Oh yeah, Vera Zvonareva has split from that incredible gorgeous romance novel cover model coach of hers. WHY, BEPA, WHY?! I wonder if #bringbacksergey would succeed where #wildcardformahut failed....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fast Five

I am back! I am sure you missed me. Please, who wouldn't miss me and all that insightful commentary I make? I mean, I LOVE ROGER'S HAIR and MAHUT IS AWESOME are key contributions to the world of tennis, n'est-ce pas?

Right. Let's ease back into things with a few quick stories:

1) Jarmila and Sam Groth are no more. Jarka and the GrothHawk have split up, which is a bit sad. She's back to being Ms Gajdosova now. His hair is presumably still silly. This event is probably most notable, tennis-wise, for her Twitter tirade about how she didn't marry Sam just for citizenship. Personally, I think the fact that people raised that question at all is insulting and ludicrous. Jarka does not need to be married to a man with stupid hair to play for Australia. Glad to have you, Jarka.

2) Fernando Gonzalez is back in town. I had almost forgotten about the existence of Gonzo, but I bet there were people that hadn't, like, oh, the entire nation of Chile. He chose to come back at the Djokovic - I mean, Serbian Open in Belgrade, where he beat Martin Klizan but lost to Feliciano Lopez. Winning your first match back - even if it is against someone I have personally never heard of - is no mean feat, so well done, Gonzo. Keep it up.

3) Someone who does not get a well done ribbon this week is John Isner. Ouch. That is going to hurt, rankings wise.

4) Welcome back Tommy Haas! He played doubles in Munich, his first match back in about 709838 years. He partnered Stepanek and they lost in a match tiebreaker, but it is so good to see Herr Hotness back on the court.

5) Grigor Dimitrov seems to have had something resembling a 'breakthrough', though I would not go counting chickens, you hear me. He beat Marcos Baghdatis, and the way people are talking about it, you'd think he beat Rafa in straight sets in the final of Roland Garros. Of course it's cause to be optimistic, but slow your roll, people, honestly. He's not exactly Milos Raonic yet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Mk VI

Still long weekend here, what with Anzac Day and all. Back tomorrow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who Needs Steffi?

Today marks the third day in a row that I've talked about women's tennis here. IS THIS THE REAL LIFE? IS THIS JUST FANTASY?

I wouldn't expect it to become a regular thing (unless the WTA suddenly becomes extraordinarily interesting), but the WTA really is a little more happening than dudeworld this week. Except for Juan Carlos Ferrero, who is rocking the kasbah. Welcome back, mosquito.

But yes. Ladies.

By my calculations, we have four German ladies in the quarters of Stuttgart. Sure, it may be a home tournament and the home ground advantage may be in play, but that is one hell of a result. And also one hell of a Fed Cup team. Where have Germany been? Seriously, it's all 'Steffi Graf, we miss her, if she came back she'd be in the top five BOOM like that', but Germany are doing pretty well all on their lonesome.

We've got Petkovic. Goerges. Lisicki. Barrois. And she's not in this tournament as far as I can tell, but there's also Groenefeld. That is not a line up to be sneezing at. And the fact that these four are in the quarters of Stuttgart is not sneezeworthy either, because although it's not exactly the fifth Slam, this is not a Mickey Mouse field. The other four people in the quarters are Zvonareva, Stosur, Radwanska... oh yeah, the world #1 Wozniacki. Germany is holding its own. (It's also worth noting that between them, these four German ladies beat Jankovic, Bartoli, Azarenka and Li. If this is not quality, then I do not know what is.)

It doesn't really matter whether or not one of these German ladies wins Stuttgart - although if my beloved Sabine Lisicki were to do it, I would be super happy. Whatever happens from here - whether all four of them make the semis or none of them do - this is a fantastic result. Germany has suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, become the dark horse powerhouse of women's tennis. Russia aside, it's hard to pick out who has a stronger ensemble act - and a better choice of ladies to pick from for Hopman Cup.

They may not be in the finals this year, but look out for this German squad in years to come. If they can all stay uninjured and keep playing this way... well, who needs Steffi?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fightings and Blessings

I haven't talked about the WTA on this blog since about, oh, 1875. Primarily because nothing that interesting was going on, and if there was, then, oops, I missed it.

But something interesting DID happen today, so let's WTA it away. That interesting thing? Sabine Lisicki, my favourite of all the ladies on the WTA tour. She's been out with injury, she wasn't given a wildcard into the Australian Open (even though, like Nicolas Mahut, she desperately deserved one), and she's been clawing her way back up the ladder for some months now. And today, she had a great, great victory over Dominika Cibulkova in Stuttgart.

There's obviously still a long way to go for Sabine. Beating Cibulkova is obviously not beating the world. It's not going to send you rocketing to #1. But quite apart from the fact that Cibulkova is a quality opponent - which she is - it's the way that Lisicki won this match that was so impressive. She was presented with about 678 opportunities to choke. It would have been so easy for her to lose the second set and then roll over in the third.

But she didn't.

Lisicki can be erratic and wild - she's one of those hyper-talented players who is almost too talented for their own good - but the scrappiness and fight she showed today will go a long, long way in her fight back to the top. I don't want to go and call her the Lady with the Iron Mind or anything like that right now, but if she can keep up this level of fightingness, the only way is up. I follow her on both Twitter and Facebook and what's really come through for me is her desire to win. She's emotionally involved in her tennis, and while I think this hinders some people, in her case, it's a blessing.

There is room for Sabine Lisicki in the top ten. There is a place for her there if only she can scrape together the points. And if she continues with this attitude, she is going right there. Maybe not tomorrow, but it's calling. And she'll make it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Other Fed

So. Fed Cup.


I suspect a lot of us would rather not talk about it, especially those of us who are Australian or American. It was not a good time, shall we say. I mean, there were moments, moments where things were great, people who played their hearts out. But in the end... oh dear. Oh dear, dear, dear.


Australia were playing Ukraine, and we managed to embarrass ourselves a lot less than the Americans, so go us. We had match point in the doubles...! We could have taken it...! And Anastasia Rodionova could totally have won that singles match...! And... if wishes were horses, etc.


The Australian press (what little of it there is that covers Fed Cup, anyway) has been pretty mean to Anastasia Rodionova about the whole "losing three rubbers" business... and it certainly is a weekend to forget for her. Not her finest hour. But in reality, she wouldn't normally be the lady that takes the court anyway, so well done to her for stepping up. And a super well done to Jarka Groth, who won both her singles rubbers and was generally awesome all weekend.


But no, on the whole, Australia suffered from a case of Fed Cup malaise. Fed Cup is just not that important to people, in the long run. Ukraine had the same thing - they were sans Bondarenkos. We had no Stosur, no Dokic, and Groth and Rodionova were essentially left as a two woman team. Kudos to them that they did as well as they did...


...and didn't, oh, lose 5-0, like a certain American team I could name.


You have to feel sorry for them. People believe, I think, that the American Fed Cup team is a lot better than it actually is, on account of there have been some Williamses on it before. But to throw McHale, Oudin, King and Huber up against Lisicki, Petkovic, Goerges and Groenefeld? Ouch.


The Germans have an awesome Fed Cup team and I will not be surprised if they win the whole thing in coming years. What they did to the American girls is only the beginning, I think. Let's hope somebody actually notices how awesome these girls are... because if you thought people didn't care about Davis Cup, it's ten times worse for Fed Cup.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

When the Ground is Red

I could have written this post last year and I don't think anyone would have been able to tell. If I had called the opponent Mr X, then I guarantee no one would have been able to tell.


Put Rafa Nadal on clay - particularly, it seems, the clay of Monte Carlo - and it doesn't matter who is on the other side of the net, because he's going to win. The opponent, in many ways, is beaten before he even begins. No one dethrones Rafa Nadal in Monte Carlo. And, as it is the first tournament of the clay season (the proper clay season, none of this Golden Swing ridiculousness), it's an ominous note for the rest of the ATP.


When the ground is red, it's Rafa's time. (As well as all those other times when it's Rafa's time.)


I don't think Rafa played anywhere near his true abilities on clay today - not even close. And yet, even playing at, what, 70%? 75%? there was no way Daveed Ferrer was touching him. And Ferrer is not exactly sub-par when it comes to clay - he has a clay title already this year, which he earned by beating Almagro, the Prince of Clay. But when it comes to Rafa...


It must be so hard for people to come out against Rafa on clay and expect to win. Belief is a huge ingredient of the tennis... cake? pie? and it is a rare man who comes out with even the faintest hint of belief that he'll win. This is why Nadal/Djokovic on clay will be such an interesting match, I think, whensoe'er it happens (and it seems likely that it will, at some point), because if there is one thing Novak has never struggled with, it's belief.


But that is a match for another day. Today is all about Rafa, and one of the most ridiculous tournament streaks we have ever seen. Congratulations, Rafa. When the ground is red, you are terrifyingly, ridiculously good.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Game Over

So now that David Ferrer has got to the final, he has basically won. We already knew that Rafa would win the tournament, so getting that cookie tray is nearly the same as winning...


...back tomorrow, when Rafa actually has won. Again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sadface for Roger

So Federer lost. And I'm away for the next couple of days, so say hi to auto-update...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Whiplash

So it was largely a day where the unexpected remained unrealised in Monte Carlo. Rafa won (duh). Roger won (also unsurprising). Ferrer and Melzer won. Even Andy Murray won, though I don't know if we can necessarily call that 'expected'... but in a world where we all know Rafa is going to win the tournament anyway, pretty much everyone did what they were supposed to.


With a couple of exceptions.


I'm going to start with the lesser exception first, because really, I don't know if anyone ever actually expects Gael Monfils to win. There is always a possibility that he will - and he does often enough that he's seeded in this tournament - but it is never, ever a surprise when he loses. Even when it's to a qualifier. I'm pretty sure that qualifier-conqueror, Frederico Gil, is a specialist dirtballer, but even still... it could have been some random grass court specialist ranked #684748 in the world and there's still a chance Monfils would go down. That's just Monfils.


But you who is supposed to be consistent? People that played in the Wimbledon final last year, and who have been ranked in the top ten for a while now. I hope you're trembling in your boots, Tomas Berdych, because if you play like this when Wimbledon comes round again, you are going to get booted out of the top ten so fast that you'll get whiplash.


Seriously, I feel like people have been waiting for Berdych to 'arrive' for, like, ever, and when he had that Roland Garros/Wimbledon run last year, everyone thought his time had come at last. But you know what? I'm getting more and more confident that that brief period of tennis excellence from Berdych was a BIG FAT FLUKE. Because has he lived up to it ever since?


Not even a little bit, not even at all.


He lost to Ivan Ljubicic, who is, let's be fair, a very, very good player. But the guys at the top of the game - your Federer, your Nadal, your Djokovic - they didn't get where they are just by occasionally losing to 'very, very good players'. They have what it takes. And Berdych, it appears, does not. And at this stage? I don't think he ever will.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ladders

So Andy Murray won a match. While sporting one of the most ridiculous hairdos ever seen on a tennis court. Um, like, well done Andy. And stuff.


We all know that I am not exactly Murray's biggest fan, but I genuinely would like to see him get a few wins in here on the clay. The hardcourt season was a total wash and I don't know if those demons are going away. But when the tour gets on clay, I think the pressure lifts from Murray's shoulders. No one expects him to perform on the red stuff. We've all heard for years that Murray is capable of winning in Australia, in the US, oh yeah, AND DEFINITELY at SW19, but at Roland Garros? No way. And that, I think, really lightens Murray's load.


So, yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if Andy gets a few good wins in on the clay. I would also not be surprised to see a grass court collapse once the immense burden of being a Brit at Wimbledon descends once more. That's the time that will make or break Murray (for 2011, at least). He's been in a hole, and while the clay season can be a bit of a ladder out if he plays well, it's not until the grass that we'll know whether he truly has made it out. The clay season is almost irrelevant, in its way, so he may as well make the best of it he can.


Fernando Verdasco was all like 'oh yeah, I'm just making the best of it I can on the hardcourts until REAL TENNIS starts, I WILL SHOW YOU, MILOS RAONIC RAAAAAAR'... and then he lost tamely to Disco Tommy. Pride and the fall, Nando. It's a thing.


This loss sends Verdasco nosediving out of the top ten - FINALLY. How long has it taken?! Geez. Andy Murray might not have won a match since Australia (till today), but at least he's still a little bit relevant. Verdasco just seems to be devolving further and further into a pit of irrelevance every day. And he doesn't have a ladder.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Be Merry, Be Free

I promise that when I quit my job (right before Roland Garros begins!) I will be better at that daily updating thing I had going.


YAY FEDERER WON YAY THIS MAKES ME HAPPY GO OFF AND BE HAPPY TOO.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Modest Achievements (and Immodest Failings)

In the grand old tradition (which I started yesterday) of talking about TWO WHOLE PLAYERS in one post, today I'm... going to talk about two players. Wow, really ruined that surprise. Oops.


The two lucky dudes on whom the glorious honour of my educated opinion are being bestowed today are Richard Gasquet and Nikolay Davydenko. I don't think their careers are directly comparable in the long run - Gasquet, as we both know, is quite a bit younger than Kolya and if talent was the only ingredient in the sundae that is a tennis player, then he would blow Kolya off the court - but they both have been around for a while, both have been in the top ten, and both are dudes on whom I have a little something something to say today. So there.


I don't think it's a secret to say that Richard Gasquet is one of the biggest wasted opportunities in tennis today. He is a typical French player - talented to the point of absurdity, capable of incredible - almost alien - tennis, and yet so inconsistent it can make you want to scratch your eyes out. I always think about Gasquet in the same box as Berdych - or at least Berdych prior to 2010. Gasquet made a run to the Wimbledon semis once, I think, but that's about it. I think that Berdych's one final is the one final he'll ever make at Slam level. Sketchy and inconsistent and... yeah, all those things.


But I actually want to say nice things about Richou today. I think he has actually played really well this year. He hasn't had a single first round exit - which for someone as skittish as him, is really something. He hasn't beaten anyone EPIC AND MAJOR OMG, but he's put together some nice streaks of matches - his run to the semis in Dubai, for example, where he beat Gilles Simon, or his run to the quarters in Indian Wells, where he came up against the blisteringly hot Novak Djokovic.


I'm not saying that he's going to go on and win Wimbledon or anything like that. But this is nice stuff to see from someone as traditionally inconsistent as Richou. Modest accomplishments, but solid ones. They're the ones that will earn you points. He just won over Denis Istomin in Monte Carlo, making another tournament where he hasn't lost in the first round. Well done, Richou.


And then we come to Kolya.


He's the opposite of Gasquet - a player who has made the most of talents that are a little bit limited. We know that he's challenged the great ones. We know he's done amazing things. But right now, he is having the most godawful year, poor thing. He just lost to Robin Haase in Monte Carlo, and his ranking is falling and falling. He's lost more times than he's won this year. He probably won't be seeded in Roland Garros, and I'd call him a dangerous floater, but who knows how dangerous he'll really be?


Haase is only the last of the players this year who've beaten Kolya who shouldn't have. After getting all the way to the final in Doha, Kolya has had a shocker of a year. What's he going to do to turn things round? I don't know. People are shouting 'retire', but I think there's more tennis in Kolya yet. We just need to find a way to winkle it out somehow.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Into The Ravine

It has taken a long, long time for this to happen, but I have fallen off the Ernests Gulbis bandwagon. Ker-plunk. I am off. And the bandwagon is merrily wheeling away into the distance... actually, no. It's bouncing and jolting across interminable potholes and I'm pretty sure it's about to fall into a ravine. Hence the jumping off. I'm not going down with it.


If there has ever been a tennis player who lacked mental fortitude more than Ernests Gulbis, I bet I've never heard on them, on account of of they never would have won anything ever. Gulbis is very, very talented - ain't no one denying that. But he's also clearly lazy and extremely mentally volatile, and there is only so far talent can take you. He is the least disciplined player in all aspects of his game I have ever seen. And it is such a waste, because those crazy-talented players are the best kind to watch. In his way, he is like a skittish Svetlana Kuznetsova - and when Sveta is your benchmark for consistency, problems: you has them.


It's a little odd to write this article when Gulbis has just pulled what is technically an upset victory over also-skittish Alexandr Dolgopolov. But there is a difference between Dolgopolov's brand of crazy and Gulbis's, and that difference means that, in the long run, Sascha is going to be the more successful one. Bet you any money.


Sascha can go hot and cold in huge extremes - look at his match against Soderling in Australia. He got pummelled to pieces in the first set - 6-1 - and then suddenly he was on FREAKING FIRE and Robin Soderling was walking off the court in defeat, wondering what the hell happened, where the kid had come from and who he thought he was anyway. No one will ever call Dolgopolov the model of consistency. He's almost Safinesque that way - though far less explosive. He seems like a pretty chill guy, despite his massive swings. But he's taken his massive talent and, with his coach Jack, applied some discipline (albeit of the long-haired boho variety). And this year has shown that that works.


Gulbis, on the other hand? Anyone who saw the semis in Sydney knows just how much he can do and just how lazily he can throw it away. He has a huge talent but he seems too lazy to do anything with it. I wrote a few years back, when I was on that bandwagon, that I expected him to be top ten in a year - two, max. And he hasn't even come close. Not because he doesn't have the talent - he does - but because he doesn't seem to have the desire to do that much with it.


Gulbis may have won against Dolgopolov today. These things happen. But in the long run, Sascha is the one with the will to win, and if one of them is going into the top ten, it's Sascha all the way. Ernie may have won this battle, but Sascha will win the war.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Courts Not Red Yet

My heart is in Monte Carlo. The tour is not. When these two stars align... there will be blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Yeah, so I realised I was taking a week off. See you on the clay!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Can Has Moar Life?

You might have noticed that NOTHING INTERESTING has happened in the last couple of days. Except Sam Querrey being a headcase. And we knew that already.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Can Has a Life?

Off having a life today. And also the tennis is pretty dull. Back soon! (And yes, there will be more Rogelio episodes in the future, fear not!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Two Impostors

Here is a thought. What is going to happen to Novak Djokovic once his streak is broken?


The streak is on at the most is incredible. It's one of the best streaks I have ever, ever seen, and there is no mistaking it. But one day, it is going to end. Someone - it might be a Rafa or a Roger, or it might be some random ranked #82 who gets lucky - is going to beat Djokovic one day. (Unless they don't, in which case, hot damn, but somehow I think that's a little unlikely). And what will happen then?


Amazing as this current streak is, I think it might actually be what happens to Djokovic post-streak that will really test his mettle. Rafa and Roger have both had amazing streaks which have eventually been broken - Rafa and his 80-odd wins on clay, Roger and his Slam semis and the Djokovic-esque 25-odd wins strung together - and they have come out the other side no different, willing to start from win #1 again and keep going. They are big damn champions, and no mistake.


...and yet it would be so easy to lose that once, see your streak ended, and then slip into a total funk.


I suspect that Djokovic will probably be just fine after his streak ends. I don't know if he'll ever put together another streak as good - because hell, that would be really, really hard - but even if he takes a couple of losses in post-streak hangover, I'm sure he'll be okay. But it's food for thought. We can only really appreciate streaks when they're broken. And the measure of the man is only really taken when he struggles back from adversity. If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Never Ever

It is no secret that I have never, ever been on board with Novak Djokovic. We've never appealed to each other, so to speak (because he obviously totally knows who I am and spends his life seeking my approval). I don't think I'm ever going to be on board that Djokotrain. But HOT DAMN, he is playing some absolutely ridonkulous tennis at the moment.


I never, ever believed that Djokovic could become #1. Nuh-uh. Never gonna happen. If he was born in a different era, sure. But with Roger and Rafa around? No way, Jose. Djokovic might pull the odd win over them, but he was going to stay in his goddamn place.


Turns out Novak Djokovic doesn't believe in the status quo. And that has made me believe that... hey, actually, yeah, maybe he could get to #1 after all. I don't know about staying there - baby steps - but get there? I'm not going to say never ever any more.


The way he played today against Rafael Nadal - who is currently ranked #1 for a damn good reason - was outstanding and it was terrifying. If I'm Rafa, I'm feeling worse about this match than I would have over a two set routine Djokowin. We saw something today from Djokovic that I, for one, have never really seen in him before - he outfought Nadal, who is the biggest fighter in the game today and arguably ever. He outgritted the toughest, grittiest, raging bull-iest man in the world. And it was not dreamt of in my philosophy. Not at all.


The streak now stands at 26, I believe. There's still a way to go before Djokovic approaches that McEnroe streak of 39, and we'd have to get a lot closer to that number before we consider the possibility of it being broken. But this is without a doubt the best start to a season anyone has ever had. To win the Australian Open, go undefeated through February and March and then take out the Indian Wells/Miami double. Holy mother of God, that is really, really scary.


It's right, I think, that the man giving him the biggest challenge is Rafa. I'm not about to proclaim Rafa and Creme Brole the new Fedal or anything, because Fedal is forever (I'm a traditionalist). But there is no denying that these two dudes play wonderfully compelling matches, and that they are the best two in the world right now... and Novak has the edge.


It is going to be so, so interesting to see what happens once we get on the clay... which is pretty much, like, now. This is the time for Rafa to catch fire, like he always does. Unfortunately for Rafa, 'catching fire' also means 'shit ton of points to defend' and Novak is snapping at his heels like an angry terrier. And if Djokovic can beat Nadal on the clay - especially if he can beat him more than once - I'm going to be more than terrified. And I won't be the only one.


(I hate you and your refusal to believe in paragraphs, Blogspot! Apologies again for the spacing - one day I'll work out how to fix this!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Paragraph Woes

My issues with Blogspot and its refusal to believe in paragraphs continue. Back tomorrow to talk about the men's final and to wrangle with it some more. (Congrats, Vika!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another Brick In The Wall

Roger Federer played his match against Rafael Nadal tonight like he had a dinner reservation (and considering it is his special lady friend's birthday, he probably does). Once he started losing, he just... kept doing it.


Let's just say that it was not my favourite Federer match - or Federer loss - of all time. He seemed like he had his crankypants on the entire time. And he made 38 unforced errors.


And he was wearing that grey outfit which makes him look like a giant wall. I am not a fan of Roger in grey. He's always referred to as an artist, so give him a freaking palette, all right?


Rafa, on the other hand, was wearing a midori-and-pineapple technicolour dreamcoat and I thought he played exceptionally well tonight. If he can play this way tomorrow against Djokovic, I think he has a swell chance of winning. And if it's not going to be Roger to break that streak, I feel like it should be Rafa. And with the clay season approaching, that would be such a powerful message to send...


Anyway, although Roger looked a little out of sorts in this match, I don't think it was any kind of pre-existing condition or anything he was carrying in. He made way too many errors, but the fact of the matter is that Nadal was playing so well he didn't give Roger too many chances. I talked the other day about how the rankings aren't lying at the moment - Fedalovic really are so far above everyone else it's just not funny. Well, Indian Wells and Miami have demonstrated that Rafa and Novak really are #1 and #2 at the moment (in no specific order, though if Novak wins Miami tomorrow, I think there really will be a specific order).


Roger has some work to do. But although there seems to be a lot of apocalyptic disaster talk around - and the dispassionate performance he turned in today against Rafa won't help it - he's still played great this year. When the only guys you're losing to are guys ranked above you, then you're doing pretty well. Roger Federer will be all right - hell, he is all right. Sometimes you get outplayed. Such is the nature of the game.


Nadal/Djokovic tomorrow is going to be a super intriguing match. I'd love to watch it, but as it's on at 3am my time, I don't think this is going to happen. It's rare that what's intriguing about a natch is defense, but these two dudes are the best at it in the game right now, no question. I'm hoping for some loooooooooong rallies and some sweet-ass shotmaking. It has the makings of an eminently watchable match... even for those who probably won't be able to watch it!


...and then comes clay...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dotty

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

SCENE #1 [INT] - A MEETING ROOM IN MIAMI

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: Hi.

RAFA: Hi.

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.

RAFA: NO YOU ARE NOT! ROGELIO IS MY BRO! EVEN HIS DAD AND MY UNCLE ARE BROS! WE ARE MEANT TO BE!

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.

THE YOKER: Hello.

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.

Enter BIG BERD.

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

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

Enter JURGEN SCHMERGEN.

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!

EVERYONE sits.

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?

ROGER: SILENCE!

Silence.

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.

NOLE: Um, YES IT IS.

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]


ROGER:
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
Embarrassing
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.

EVERYONE looks at THE YOKER.

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: ...now 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.

BIG BERD: Oh.

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!

EVERYONE ELSE: No!

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.

EVERYONE: No.

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

Sombrebro

...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.

Sorry.




SCENE #1 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

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.

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Silly me!

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.



SCENE #2 [INT] - THE LOCKER ROOM IN BOGOTA

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.



SCENE #3 [INT] - RAFA'S MIND

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.



SCENE #4 [INT] - THE LOCKER ROOM IN BOGOTA

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]

NOLE:

Rogelio
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!
Federer
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
Federdoor
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!
Federer
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!
Federer
Not betterer
Federer
Not betterer
Choose me, Rafa
Not Roger
Choose me, Rafa
Not Roger
Federer
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?



SCENE #5 [INT] - SOMEWHERE IN ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN MIAMI

MY FRIEND STANLEY: Muahahahahahahaha.

ROGER: Why are you laughing, My Friend Stanley?

MY FRIEND STANLEY: ...no reason.



SCENE #6 [INT] - THE LOCKER ROOM IN BOGOTA

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.



SCENE #7 [EXT] - THE EXHIBITION AT BOGOTA

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...



SCENE #8 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

...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.



SCENE #9 [INT] - THE AIRPORT IN BOGOTA

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?



SCENE #10 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

ROGER: Rafa?



SCENE #11 [INT] - THE AIRPORT IN BOGOTA

A moment of breathless silence.

RAFA: ...Rogelio?

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



SCENE #12 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

ROGER: Is that Novak?



SCENE #13 [INT] - THE AIRPORT IN BOGOTA

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.



SCENE #14 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

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?



SCENE #15 [INT] - THE AIRPORT IN BOGOTA

RAFA: They BROke up.



SCENE #16 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

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



SCENE #17 [INT] - THE AIRPORT IN BOGOTA

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.



SCENE #18 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

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]

ROGER:
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.


SCENE #19 [INT] - THE AIRPORT IN BOGOTA

RAFA wipes away tears.

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



SCENE #20 [INT] - ROGER'S HOTEL ROOM IN KEY BISCAYNE

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!



SCENE #21 [INT] - THE AIRPORT IN BOGOTA

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.