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!


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...


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.