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Wimbledon Day 11: Not Enough

Posted by gauloises1 on July 3, 2010

Rafael Nadal d. Andy Murray, 64 76(6) 64

OK, let me get this out of the way: Rafa was incredible. Irresistible, indomitable … you know what, pick your own superlative and I’ll sign off on it. He deserves all of them. I may be lacking a lot of things (the ability to muster any attempt at graciousness right now, for example), but respect for Rafa is not one of them. He was [insert superlative], a true [insert noun], and demonstrated once again that his [insert superlative and noun] and [insert superlative and noun] are second to none.

Oh look.

It’s just that for me, Rafa being [insert superlative] is not … inspiring me right now. A flaw in me, no doubt, but we all know Rafa is both a magnificent player and an astounding competitor. It’s not a revelation. It’s not new. It’s yet another chapter in an unfolding tale of [insert superlative]. For me, it’s not the story. The story is where Murray came up short.

In case there was any doubt I’m British, that should have removed it.

Because Andy played well. He played really well. That’s just one of the many beautiful dimensions to this particular loss. He was in the points, in the games, threatening Rafa’s serve. He had break points in the first set, set points in the second set tiebreak, and led 4-2 in the third set. And what happened? Tame netted returns on second serves. Idiotic shot selection. Wild unforced forehand errors. Working brilliantly and courageously to earn himself an open court – and I don’t need to underline how hard that is to do against Rafa, do I? – and then time and again netting or going out when all he had to do was put it away.

I haven’t read much about this match yet (what do I need, ulcers?) but I gather the prevailing narrative is comprised primarily of (a) Rafa is [insert superlative] and (b) Murray was too passive. Well, that’s not what I saw. I thought Andy’s game plan was absolutely fine and would have been very effective. It was his execution that was the problem. Clearly, part of the credit for that goes to Rafa for being so damn [insert superlative] that his opponent feels he has to hit a perfect shot in order to win the point. Equally clearly, part of the blame goes to Andy. It isn’t as if he doesn’t have the experience, either of playing Nadal in Slams or being in a Wimbledon semi-final. And it certainly isn’t that he doesn’t have the ability.

What he didn’t have was what was required, or quite enough of what was required. Whatever you want to call it – heart, guts, balls, courage. The winner’s mentality. Whatever it was, he didn’t have it. And so the fact remains that he was close in every respect to Rafa (91 points to 98, if that helps). But he still lost in straight sets. Which rather raises the question of what the fucking point was, exactly.

Would it have been easier if Rafa had steamrolled Andy and been unquestionably superior from first to last? Possibly. The grass is always greener (although in fairness, the grass has almost always been greener than it is this year). I do feel that that possibility might have held out more hope for the future. It’s not unknown, after all, for a player to go from being double-bagelled in the quarterfinals of a Slam to beating that same opponent in five sets in a different Slam barely nine months later. A bad day can become a good day. But when a good day, a very good day, is still not enough – not nearly enough – and the responsibility lies primarily at your door, precisely what hope is there?

No, I’m really asking.

 [insert expletive]


11 Responses to “Wimbledon Day 11: Not Enough”

  1. Crys said

    Nailed it. With real nails. Ow 😦

    • gauloises1 said

      You should have read the version I wrote before I had a bottle and a half of wine. I didn’t even get on to the bit about how we’re going to relive this exact same experience next Slam and the next and the next.

      Sorry. But I can’t name positives I didn’t see. And what I saw is someone who’s amazing at tennis, but not necessarily an amazing tennis player. Not amazing enough, anyway.

      Think I’ll finish that other bottle of wine.

  2. meretricula said

    I doubt this will be helpful, but… I really hope Mandy doesn’t take this loss the way Nole did losing to Rafa in Madrid last year. as a fan, I’d rather the player I support play well even when s/he loses, but from the way Novak reacted, I’m guessing to play pretty much as well as you possibly can and *still lose* is about as devastating as a loss can be. on the other hand, Novak is a ridiculously emotional player and probably more likely to be shaken by that sort of thing than Mandy.

    I wasn’t rooting for Andy, but god, I feel so bad for him right now.

    • gauloises1 said

      I have no idea how you take this kind of loss well. I really don’t.

      As you can tell, I’m struggling, and I’m just a fan.

    • Aleksa said

      Well said.
      From ridiculously emotional Nole fan.
      Think I have reached my new low.
      Off to sulk in my corner and be moody and say fuck a lot.

  3. CPM said

    So I’m nobody’s idea of a guy who knows what the fuck he’s talking about when it comes to the X’s & O’s of tennis (though that doesn’t stop me from trying), but it seemed to me that the shot that really let Andy down today was his forehand, especially going down the line. I don’t have stats on his FH errors vs. BH, but my guess is that most of the 19 he accumulated were of the former sort. My recollection is that those were the shots he needed to make to take advantage of the open court — and my guess is that it ain’t accidental that Nadal was trying, with some success, to send them to his weaker wing. Why weren’t those shots coming off? No idea. Maybe it’s bad execution, maybe it’s something about Nadal’s shots, maybe it was the fact that that’s just his weaker wing, and that’s gonna happen sometimes. I dunno.

    It also appeared to me that as the match wore on, Murray’s second serve diminished in quality quite a bit. Or Rafa really started reading it better — which amounts to the same thing. I think Murray needed three sets worth of top-flight serving to come through in this one, and it wasn’t quite there for him.

    Anyway: easy for me to say, I know, but don’t get down. There are going to be matches like this against Rafa, where Rafa comes up with the goods and Murray doesn’t. But there are also going to be more like their AO meeting, where Rafa comes up with the goods, and Murray comes up with better. I don’t even kind of doubt that. And disappointing as this loss is, Murray came into Wimbledon in really poor form, IMO, and turned it around on a dime. That took grit, and that took skill. Your boy is the real deal — you can ask Rafa, if you don’t believe me.

  4. SA said

    This Rafa fan was gutted for Andy and all his fans today. When you play your best and it’s not enough…the only thing I can say is that I hope Andy take some type of positives out of this match. Maybe that he’s not that far off. Or that if one thing went differently the match would have went differently. I don’t know. Isn’t that the joy and sadness of sports at the end of the day? Doesn’t make it easier, I know.

    Can I say, I do agree with Rafa. Andy’s too good and has been too close too many times for him to never win one. It would be amazing if the tennis gods let that first one be Wimbledon, but I do think he’ll get it.

    As to your question, the ’07 final (and I’m still not over this one) was the most heartbreaking match I’ve ever watch. Rafa won in ’08 and could win on Sunday. There is ALWAYS hope. It sucks now, but come the USOpen, come next AO and next year here at Wimbledon, you’ll have it again. I promise. Again, THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.

  5. neilintoronto said

    There is only ever one “problem” i ever notice with Andy’s game. He tends to hit the majority of his forehands cross court. I don’t think i’ve ever seen him try to pass someone at the net with anything other than a cross court shot. All the guys know it.

    Andy, Please, i know its easy for me to armchair quarter back, but more forehands dtl will help you out immensely going forward.

    Hugs again to G and All of Mandy’s fans 🙂

  6. robert said

    Murray moves forcefully, but without enough precision and vigour needed for irregular and low bounces on grass. He’s not naturally agile, rather a product of intense workout, with acquired massive legs, which is unfortunate for a player whose game is based on retrieving and speed.

    On concrete, this is compensated by truer and higher bounce, so he has more time to set up. On grass, he’s often a split second late and off balance. More so on his weaker forehand wing. Thus all those netted forehands.

    So, no wonder he can beat Nadal at USO and AO, but not at W.

    And that FH of his is hopeless, I’m afraid. No sustained power in it. He can belt it only once in a blue moon, and that only as a point ender already prepared by a strong backhand. That’s one of the main reasons he’s not so good on clay, BTW.

  7. lauren said

    Today just hurts. Yesterday was painful. Not least because my in-laws invited themselves to stay and turned up SEVEN HOURS early to ensure they could chit-chat about potboiler fiction all through the tie break. And groan at every point Andy lost without crediting Rafa with being the cause.

    So, yeah, I’m with you G on all you’ve said apart from the bit about lacking courage. He took it close. He pressed until Rafa could feel him breathing down his neck, and extracted a flaky serve. But then Andy failed with execution. It’s the reverse of Tsonga’s ‘suicide leave’ in the previous match. If Andy had taken that tie break we’d have had a killer match on our hands. So I’m not going to string him on Tyburn quite yet.

  8. jewell - Make tea, not war. said

    *hugs Gauly*

    I feel like such a traitorous bitch today. 😦

    I know Murray doesn’t want to say it, but he’s playing not only against Rafa but against so much history etc at Wimbledon. That’s hard. That said, I don’t think people generally expected Murray to win today. Hoped, yes. But I mean – Rafa is one of the greats, it’s not like Murray was playing Chela or something, not to mention this tournament has been his first really good run of form since the AO. Murray had opportunities he couldn’t take, sure, but then – that’s the story of a lot of Rafa matches, no? He is brilliant at asking “So, are you tough enough? Are you really tough enough to take it? Even if I do this?” at every possible opportunity for an opponent, and shifting the pressure onto them. In the mind and on the court.

    Agree with CPM – *waves* – about the FH DTL, I remember him making maybe one? It was a good one too. Also agree with neil (!!!!!!!!!!) about people knowing where Murray will go. Several times Rafa anticipated where Murray would go at the net, and managed to win the point. Agree with Robert about the surfaces – put this match at the AO or USO and likely a different result.

    Can’t write Murray off until he’s lost in at least four SFs, two of which have to be when the whole draw opens up beautifully…oh, Tim!

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