Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tennis again

Just watched a great match, the Rome semi-final between Nadal and Davydenko. Three hours 40 minutes, with the first two sets decided on tie-breaks – not because neither player could break the other’s serve but because they broke each other consistently. (Note to self: should have used a Broke-back Mountain pun in the last post.) Stunning stuff all the way through. Davydenko was superb – he played Nadal on clay better than anyone I’ve seen, pushed and bullied him all around the court, and looked the better player for a large part of the match. For once I wouldn’t have minded if Nadal had lost.

But he won, and this match was a reminder of what an extraordinary achievement his clay-court winning streak is. It's so common to see him pull off seemingly effortless straight-sets wins on this surface that we forget the levels of discipline and stamina required for each match. (A similar epiphany occurs on those rare occasions when Federer loses, on any surface.) Btw, read this excellent piece by Rohit Brijnath on Nadal.

The downside is, Rafa has looked weary at various times in this tournament, and after this marathon I doubt he’ll have enough left in him to beat Fernando Gonzalez in the final (Gonzalez won his semi-final in just over an hour). More importantly, is he going to be burnt out for the French Open, and if so, could that be Federer’s big opportunity?

P.S. A nugget of wisdom for Nadal fans, from personal experience: soundproof your rooms. If you watch every match he plays, your family will eventually start to wonder about the grunting sounds that emanate from your room. (This is also where I request the ATP to arrange an exhibition match between Nadal and Maria Sharapova. Then we can close our eyes and imagine we’re listening to rhinoceros porn.)


  1. These last two posts are going to get those search engines crazy......!

    Meanwhile, tell me Im not the only one amazed, shocked and disappointed (why should I be ? "what goes of mine" as we say) that at the first loss of form, Federer and Tony Roche have split ....?

  2. Rafa? Maria? Child, you're too young to remember the granny of them all. There was a Girl called Monica ...

    But 'rhinoceros porn'? Inspired!


  3. Sfx: I wouldn't read too much into it - could be there were problems (or even just a cordial agreement to split) before Federer's recent losses. Besides, when Federer won three Grand Slams in 2004 he didn't have a coach at all! Maybe he figures he should try that tactic once more just before Roland Garros!

    JAP: you're way past your Seles-by date.

  4. No one had a sexier grunt that ol' Mon. But Jai, seriously, even if Rafa burns out (which he won't), I don't think Fed has the game to win the French Open. Just doesn't have it.

  5. Solitary Reaper8:07 PM, May 13, 2007

    oh shit.. that last line had me laughing for 5 mins..

  6. Apparently during Wimbledon last year radio broadcasters of Sharapova's matches had to specify at the beginning of the show that this was a sports programme. *blink*

  7. a grunt for a grunt, shall we say? hehe.. and yeah.. much like the others who've commented.. RHINOCEROS PORN!!! OH! YEAHH.. BRING IT ON!

    I agree with dear muddy's definitive 'last words'.. fed just doesnt have it! BUT! you never know! he might just spring a surprise this time..!!

  8. Shamya: are you really a sports journo? Federer is a solid cut above every other clay player apart from Nadal. All it would realistically take is for Nadal to be injured/fatigued/shocked by someone else at an early stage of the tournament. But yes, it's looking unlikely that Fed can win this year.

  9. The Federer-Roche split was inevitable, given the photographic evidence of Jai's last "tennis" post.