Sunday, May 18, 2008


I think I lost around 10 years of my life watching this match yesterday - almost feel like I played the thing myself. Warrior moment for Rafa, holding on to his number 2 ranking in the face of some absolutely superb clay-court tennis by Djokovic. Great match from both guys, great last game (which went on for something like 20 minutes). Rafa meets Federer in the Hamburg final today, but I really don't care whether he wins or not. Yesterday was enough.

I spend a lot of my spare time on the Tennis World blog and it's been interesting to see how the arrival of Djokovic in the last few months seems to have united Federer and Nadal fans. Roger's groupies were actually cheering Rafa on yesterday (though that's partly because if Rafa had lost the number 2 spot, he might have been seeded to meet Roger in the French Open semi-final this year instead of the final, and that would have been frazzle-inducing for any Federer fan). The camaraderie between both groups of fans has been quite remarkable in recent months, especially given all the rancour that used to be directed at Rafa when he first came on to the scene. (More on that in these posts, about sports-fans and their perceptions.) A lot of that rancour is now being directed at Djokovic, who is seen as the cocky young upstart trying to overturn the established order, but I think he'll start building up goodwill for himself in the next few months. So it goes in sport.

P.S.: if none of this makes any sense to you, look away. I usually do a good job of keeping my very intense life as a tennis fanatic away from this blog, but have to unburden every once in a while.


  1. I thought the support for Rafa yesterday (even from me) was because everyone that is not from Serbia hates Djokovic. Why they do is very clear from what the genial Serb said and did in 2006 Davis Cup and the French Open.

    Barbs directed at Rafa earlier was expected, because his style and success mocked traditional ways of playing tennis. Comparing Rafa with Djoko is an insult to Rafa. Djoko is a player with no exceptional talent in the game, except may be his self belief.

  2. Djoko is a player with no exceptional talent in the game

    I wish that were true but I'm afraid we'll find out in the next few years that it isn't. He might turn out to be an even better all-round player than Federer and with a game that matches up better against Rafa on clay. I wouldn't mind seeing Gasquet knock him out in the first round of a slam though - but that can only happen after Gasquet slips below 32 in the rankings!

  3. I remember the same thing said about Hewitt in 2001. Djoko is the worst volleyer in top 10. Worse than even Davydenko.

  4. Hope that Jo-Wilfred Tsonga comes barging through and decides to gatecrash this party of three!

  5. Am more of a Federer fan myself but given the way Nadal beat Federer in Hamburg today, there's no way anyone else is walking away with the title at Roland Garros.

  6. muhaafiz: that would be nice but I don't see it happening somehow. Tsonga looks more likely to be an inconsistently brilliant player. I don't think he'll ever be a big factor on clay but let's see what happens during the HC season.

    Toe Knee: I don't know about that. For sports fans who believe in portents, one could say that with Roger losing Hamburg this year, he could be due for RG. Law of averages and all that, plus he STILL hasn't won a major title this year and he could come out all guns blazing at RG, playing with the full-blown aggression of someone who has nothing to lose. (Remember, this year, the expectations on him will also be lower than they have been in the past 3 years, and that could help. Rafa, on the other hand, will again have his number 2 ranking and Wimbledon seeding at stake if he doesn't defend his title.)

    Other, more tangible factors: 1) Rafa's fitness and fatigue levels, which I'm just not confident about despite his superb achievement in winning these two intense matches on consecutive days, 2) The top 3 in men's tennis being so far ahead of the rest of the pack, the luck of the draw has become a crucial factor. Whoever has Djokovic in his half for the FO will have a much tougher potential route to the final than the other guy. (Of course, sport being what it is, it's possible that Djoko might crash out in the fourth round, opening out the draw!)

  7. Hey,
    I've been reading your blog for sometime now. Thoroughly enjoy it. Just a spur of the moment thought- Do you wanna catch up for coffee?