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The Week In Winners: Memphis Edition

Posted by gauloises1 on February 21, 2011

OK, I was putting this off, but I’m knackered and off early in the morning and I just can’t wait for more photos to come through right now.

Ladies first: it was a sad ending to an exceptional tournament for Rebecca Marino when she was forced to retire, trailing by a set, in the final due to an abdominal injury she sustained during the semi-final. The young Canadian and female Delpo was in tears on the court, but comported herself fairly well and gave a very nice, mature press conference that you can see here. So congratulations to Magdalena Rybarikova, who clearly decided to have one of her somewhat rare good weeks and certainly deserved the title.

 But let’s talk about tonight’s final between Milos Raonic and Andy Roddick, shall we? Actually, I don’t know if I can because I’m very tired and still buzzing too much from the match to be articulate about it. It’s easy, looking at the score (two tiebreaks and 75 in the third) that this was your basic big-serving contest coming down to a few clutch points here and there. And although the latter is true, it was such a fun match. Roddick, who was clearly suffering from a cold, followed on where he left off against Delpo, deciding to match Raonic in the neck-or-nothing (to paraphrase Georgette Heyer) department, and Raonic handled the entire match magnificently. Not for a moment did he look overawed by the occasion or, come to that, the second-best player even when he was trailing. Roddick said during the trophy presentation that he was outplayed for two and a half hours and just ‘hung in there’, and while that’s a little too self-deprecating, it also gives an accurate flavour of the match.

But then sometimes all you need to do is hang in there and seize your opportunity when it presents itself. Raonic after being down a break in the third set broke back, held fairly easily, pressed but was unable to get anywhere on Roddick’s serve, and looked as if he was on his way to holding serve at 5-6. A couple of errors and it was 30-40. And then … this happened.

(There’s a better quality version here, but I couldn’t embed it.)

That, ladies and gentleman, is one of the best balls-out death-or-glory match-point shots you will ever see. Let’s not pretend Raonic didn’t play that point well. His cross-court backhand volley was brilliantly executed and could – should – have been a winner. Roddick had no business getting to that ball, still less hitting it back for a winner. And yet.

I said after the match that if I was Raonic, I would be feeling gypped. And I would. But I would also learn a big lesson from this: that sometimes you just have to say ‘too good’, and one amazing shot from your opponent doesn’t mean you didn’t play some fantastic tennis. He did, he really did – and then had the gall to be adorable in the trophy presentation, saying (I’m paraphrasing) “at least I’ll be in one of the most-watched YouTube points of all time. I’ll be on the wrong side of the court, but at least my name will be in the description.” Be un-won over, I dare you.

But the day belonged to Roddick. It was his fiftieth final, his thirtieth title, and had to be one of the best points he’d played in his career. It was also funny in a poignant sort of way to see him cram his hat back on his head afterwards, as if to hide his receding hairline. (It’s OK, Andy. You still have an amazing bum.)

 

 Roddick referred to himself as an “old guy” when he was congratulating Raonic afterwards, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it’s difficult to deny that he probably only has a handful of opportunities left to thrill the tennis-watching public at large like that. I was so glad to be watching. Thanks for a great match.

NB: Not to spoil the moment, but I’m away for a couple of days, so blogging may be light.

One Response to “The Week In Winners: Memphis Edition”

  1. neilintoronto said

    Nothing but proud of Raonic!!! One of the early candidates for best 3 set match of the year. It had every textbook shot AND some unbelievable gets. Both men proving that they’re more than just a serve.

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