Wimbledon Day 13: No Muss, Some Fuss
Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010
Rafael Nadal d. Tomas Berdych, 63 75 64
You know, my sister – irritatingly – had the poor taste to be born on a Wimbledon semifinals day way back when, and compounds her error by insisting on some form of ‘celebration’ of her birthday every year which almost always prevents me from watching the men’s final. I ask you. Anyway, I was explaining to someone at work today that I hadn’t had time to watch it back yet. “Don’t bother,” he advised. “Watch the highlights.” And this is a tennis-mad sports journo talking.
I disregarded that advice, obviously, but having watched the whole thing, I don’t have that much to say about the actual match; clinical rather than exhilarating from Rafa, just too many errors from Berdych (although no doubt Rafa would have raised his level had Berdych raised his). It didn’t need to be that big a performance from Rafa, though, and I’m not casting aspersions on Berdych here; he had already in a sense had his big performances of the tournament, first by overcoming some determined challenges from underdogs Petzchner and Haase (and I do attribute that to the level of play they showed, rather than Rafa being sub-par), and secondly in his dominance of Soderling and Murray. Nothing left to do on the Sunday but get the job done, and that’s what he did, emphatically.
A word, of course, for Tomas Berdych, who I think has caught a bit of undeserved flak for his performance yesterday; he was hardly bad, just a little overpowered by the occasion (and there was that dude at the other end of the court). First finals are hard; people talk about ‘nothing to lose’, but as Francesca Schiavone astutely pointed out before the French Open final, whenever you’re playing for something, there’s always something to lose. Besides, I imagine you’re not thinking about your ‘first’ final in that situation as much as you are thinking ‘this might be my only final’.
He’s had, of course, a fantastic tournament, doing that thing that’s always a thrill when a talented player finds whatever recipe it is that works in order to do what people have always suspected he could. And I was encouraged by the way he talked quite soberly, both in his on-court interview and his press conference, about knuckling down and kicking on and building on what he’s achieved. I really hope he can. I want to see more of the kind of tennis he’s played to light a fire under these championships.
And that smile …
Rafa, though. I think it speaks volumes for how finely-balanced the state of affairs is at the top of the men’s game when it feels this noteworthy for the no. 1 player (albeit not the no. 1 seed) to win Wimbledon. When you consider where and how Rafa was twelve months ago, to have come back stronger and – I don’t think there can be any doubt – looking more dominant than ever before is really remarkable. I mean … what can you say? You know it all, anyway. And honestly, how many people in history have celebrated their eighth Grand Slam with a roly-poly on Centre Court that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the field at lunchtime? That’s Rafa. Can’t wait to see what he does if and when he wins the US Open.
I do want to say how pleased I am for the lovely Rafa fans I know – Jewell and AmyLu in particular, neither of whom I know really believed this would happen this year.
So … who’s taking bets on a career Slam now, then?