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WTF Day Two: Give It Up For the Most Hated

Posted by gauloises1 on November 24, 2009

I’ve spent a lot of today reading some quite ugly comments about Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic. But you know what? They won. So haters know which way to go …

Robin Soderling d. Rafael Nadal, 64 64

A lot of the reportage today deemed this an ‘upset’. Which I suppose it was, if you’ve been living under a rock since Wimbledon 2008. Soderling wasn’t playing anywhere near as well as he did during their last meeting (I think it was in France somewhere or something?), but I think his game on this surface allied to his new-found confidence and mental toughness is always going to be a tough ask for Nadal, and he simply wasn’t up to it.

While Nadal was quite brilliant at times, overall the impression his tennis left was one of inconsistency – especially on the big points. That fact sits uneasily with my mental image of Nadal, but it’s somewhat confirmed from his own mouth:

“I think I didn’t play really bad, I played OK,” he said. “But in the important moments I didn’t have the necessary calm – I played shorter in the important moments. That’s the reason he beat me.

“He’s a big player on this surface, so it’s difficult. If you are not completely calm and playing very well in that moment, it’s really difficult to win, and today I didn’t play in this way at that moment.”

It’s weird to talk about Rafa lacking in self-belief … but there you are. Anyway, a really solid win for Robin, who celebrated with some particularly evil-looking picturage:

You go, RobSod. Get down with your bad self.

Novak Djokovic d. Nikolay Davydenko, 36 64 75

a.k.a the ‘Slobberknocker Royale’. Apparently.

I’ll be honest, these two are not my favourite match-up. Love both their games, but watching them play each other never really works for me. And I didn’t feel the quality of tennis was brilliant tonight, although both played fantastically at times.

But. But. This is what the WTFs are supposed to be like; the top guys going toe-to-toe, hammer-and-tongs, and other metaphors as well. They seemed like they were battling themselves as much as each other; Kolya had a visit from the trainer and swallowed some mysterious pills for whatever ailment has been bothering him since Valencia, and Nole looked totally exhausted at times and alluded to physical issues in his presser, according to twitter.

However, I’d back Nole against Nole any day, based on today’s performance. Kolya actually broke Nole back when he was serving for the match (displaying a quite phemomenal sense of timing in finally getting his backhand down the line clicking), but couldn’t get it together enough to hold, and Nole eventually wrapped up an absolutely bruising encounter just in time for the crowd to miss the last tube.

I have to say I’m sceptical about Nole’s chances going forward, in terms of winning the whole thing. He’s going to need some miraculous recovery. But he did so well. Ajde, kitten!

25 Responses to “WTF Day Two: Give It Up For the Most Hated”

  1. AmyLu said

    To me, self-belief and confidence have always been the key to Rafa’s play — and when he’s gone on his “title droughts”, I’ve mostly attributed those spells to that very reason — he’s lacking that little extra self-belief or confidence he needs to win.

    I always thought that Rafa would have difficulty winning the Australian Open, not because it was a hardcourt, but because he wouldn’t have a chance to really get enough self-belief and confidence prior to the tournament. I actually thought his best chance to win would be if he participated in a winning DC final — that he could carry some of the belief, confidence, and momentum with him. He proved me wrong this past year, much to my surprise and delight. I think Steve Tignor is the one who wrote Rafa still needs to prove to himself that he is as good as he is, and I do think that’s true.

    JJ and I both believe that part of Rafa’s success at Wimbledon is partly due to his play on clay beforehand. I now think he is a formidable grass court player in his own right, and one of the best on the surface, but I don’t think he was in 2006. I think his beyond surprising title-run was partially due to how much confidence and self-belief he’d had from his clay court run (in particular, I think the Rome final over Fed and beating Fed in the RG final were key).

    I guess I’ve always thought Rafa is mentally strong, but I don’t necessarily equate that with self-belief. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but to me they are separate entities. Rafa’s mental strength to me that he rarely, if ever, will beat himself. But, that mental strength doesn’t always translate to putting himself in the best position to win. When he has self-belief and confidence, he tends to be more the aggressor and less likely to always be the defender. And, it’s not that I think his self-belief is every ridiculously low — I just think it can ebb a bit.

    Anyway, sorry for the long narrative on Rafa. I’ve been rather reflective about him lately because since May, well, everything seems to be a bit of a challenge. I didn’t actually watch today’s match, but from all accounts, Robin played really well. And, while I’m not happy Rafa lost, I’m happy he lost to someone playing well (and really I don’t dislike Robin — I think he stands a great chance to be in the semis, and I can’t say I’m upset by that prospect).

  2. Saoirse said

    Always knew SoderDouche was the devil and these pictures, part frantic ostrich, part Hitler-worshipper, just prove my point.

    I take great pride in my hatred for the guy. HATE.

  3. Jackie said

    “Slobberknocker” was ALL me. Is it actually catching on? Wrestling FTW.

    • Jackie said

      Er, most inane comment ever. Apologies. -_-

      • gauloises1 said

        You do not have to apologise for your comment.

        You do, however, have to apologise for claiming that THAT was the most inane comment ever. We take these things seriously round here!

    • AmyLu said

      Is it a wrestling term? I always associated it with football first and foremost, but that’s most likely due to my sports-viewing tendencies. 🙂

      • Jackie said

        Ah, well, I picked it up from wrestling announcer Jim Ross … but he’s a HUGE Oklahoma sports fan, so perhaps it has origins there? NOW I HAVE TO FIND OUT! 😉

  4. harini said

    I can imagine the amount of Robin hate going on. But Nole? For serious? Poor Nole.

    I shouldn’t say that I’m surprised Robin beat Rafa because anything goes, really. I checked the scores right when Rafa lost the early break in the second set and when I checked 20 minutes later, it was all over. I guess I didn’t expect THAT to happen so soon. Oh well!

    Still, blah Rafa.

    • Saoirse said

      Nole hatred is totally unjustified, IMO. But hating the Sod? That’s just good old common sense. I mean just LOOK at the guy! Evil personified.

    • Jess said

      Poor Rafa *hug* *smooch* He needs lots of love now.

      Sod – well play! Good character (you have to have someone to hate in the circuit).

      Nole – not hate him but I can’t love him either. He annoys me with the “look-at-me” attitude (well, less so these days). Or “I’m going skiing with Marat.” brag (arrgggg).

      Kolya – you can do it. Bring it on!

  5. irefusetotellyou said

    Am I the only one who will stand up for RobSod here? I like both Nadal AND RobSoddie and I’m very happy with that. GO ROBSOD, IT’S YO BIRTHDAY!

    Now me and my umlauts are going to go hang out together.

    • lauren said

      I’ll stand up for him too. I don’t understand why he’s become everybody’s poster child for invective. Sure, he was darned rude to Rafa at Wimbie, but then Elf was way out of order once to Murray about his mum.

      There are two bandwagons I will stay on, however. The ‘Verdasco is overrrated in every department’ one, and the ‘Nole is an attention whore’ one. ‘Cos ever girl needs a bandwagon or two.

  6. Cubbie/Carrie said

    Loved your first post Amy- great thoughts.

    It feels like right now Rafa is in the doldrums. Players are figuring him out- he is not always figuring solutions on a consistent basis. But one thing that I liked today is that he did at times have some good aggressive play. But he did not look confident and then he would flub.

    Robin played well and with confidence.

    But as a Rafa fan, I hope that Rafa can figure out a way to win against Robin- as he has against players such as Blake in the past. I think he is able to – but the thing that saddens/worries me is that he just does not seem to enjoy it anymore- so I wonder if he can right now. He just seems off and sad right now…..A light has gone out.

  7. Aleksa said

    Absolutely ridiculous.
    Haters will hate. And they amuse me to no end.

    I also utterly and completely love Novak Whore Djokovic who goes skiing and partying with the Marat Safin.

  8. Iliana said

    Gauloises, why don’t you just admit it? You hate Rafa, you just don’t want to use the word hate. We get it that you don’t like men that are easy on the eyes but rather you like awkward and underdogs, but you can’t deny that both Soderling and DelPo have said or acted very rude towards Rafa and other players (yes DelPo, pre-Davis Cup last year, you know it). I think Rafa on the other hand is all the opposite, always very humble, and curteous, that is why people see the contrast. And I think is called an upset whenever a top player is beaten. Whatever.

    • gauloises1 said

      Iliana, this is my blog. I’ve got no reason to conceal anything here. If I hated Rafa, I’d admit it. I don’t.

      I’m not denying that both Soderling and Delpo can certainly have been seen to be disrespectful to Rafa in the past. But I don’t expect these people to display all the virtues all the time. They’re human. And at the end of the day, if I like their game, I care much more about that than I do what they did or didn’t say or mean or whatever. Weird atttribute in a tennis fan, I know, but there you are.

      And with that I am done explaining myself.

  9. neil in toronto said

    I’m not sure why anyone would hate on Nole. He is so fun to watch, and uber emotive. That, and he’s a fantastic player, easy on the eyes, and always warm with his opponents at the net win or lose. I don’t hate Sod either, well, maybe a wee bit when he beats Rafa, but that’s just Rafalove talking. Kudos to Robin for backing up the F.O. win and playing fantastically at this tournament.

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