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Archive for the ‘wimbledon’ Category

Putting On The Ritz

Posted by gauloises1 on July 6, 2010

In honour of Rafa actually being able to attend the Champions’ Ball properly this time ….

C Note has more.

Posted in rafael nadal, serena williams, wimbledon | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Wimbledon Titlists: And the Rest

Posted by gauloises1 on July 6, 2010

Congratulations to the other champions from Wimbledon 2010. It’s been an amazing fortnight for all sorts of people.

Mixed Doubles: Paes/Black d. Moodie/Raymond, 64 76(5)

I watched them lose last year, so this pleases.

Ladies’ Doubles: Shvedova/King d. Vesnina/Zvonareva, 76(6) 62

Tough day for Vera, but these two are adorable.

And my favourite team of the year …

Gentlemen’s Doubles: Petzschner/Melzer d. Lindstedt/Tecau, 61 75 75

To quote Petzsch, “I’ve fcking won wimbledon!omg.”


And among the juniors …

Boys’ Singles: Marton Fucsovics d. Benjamin Mitchell, 64 64

Fucsovics? Yes please. Also delighted to see he’s carrying on the tradition of boys’ singles winners being cute as a little pie.

Girls’ Singles: Kristyna Pliskova d. Sachie Ishizu, 63 46 64

The Czech Republic = the new Serbia?

And a quartet of tiny Tims …

Boys’ Doubles: Tom Farquharson/Liam Broady d. Lewis Burton/George Morgan

I nominate all four to the GBR Davis Cup squad, effective immediately.

Posted in benjamin mitchell, british tennis, cara black, jurgen melzer, kristyna pliskovic, leander paes, liam broady, marton fucsovics, philipp petzchner, sachie ishizu, titlists, tom farquharson, vania king, wimbledon, yaroslava shvedova | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 13: No Muss, Some Fuss

Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010

Rafael Nadal d. Tomas Berdych, 63 75 64

[insert superlative]

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?

Posted in rafael nadal, titlists, tomas berdych, wimbledon | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 12: “Hey, Billie, I Got You!”

Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010

Serena Williams d. Vera Zvonareva, 63 62

On Saturday, Serena Williams picked up her fourth Wimbledon title and her thirteenth Grand Slam over all, overtaking Billie Jean King in the all-time standings. And she did it without dropping a set and without facing a break in the final. That’s about as dominant a performance as you will ever, ever see. Gobsmacking stuff.

OK, so it wasn’t the most interesting final to watch, but if you consider Serena’s performance over the seven matches throughout the fortnight as the spectacle, then you know you’ve seen something.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Vera, as there was basically nothing she could do; she could have played a good 15% better, and there still would have been nothing she could have done. Her run to the final was exceptional and she did her best on the day, although she must have hoped for so much more from it, but the way she handled herself after such a painful experience – the dignity and the depth of emotion she showed – was both impressive and endearing. And if she can kick on from this tournament and play with something approaching the same level of conviction, we could be looking at a whole different Vera Zvonareva in the latter phase of her career. Could be very interesting.

And she’s still got the hottest coach since Hugo Le Coq. So there’s always that.

Serena, though. I don’t want to belabor this angle, but it was the first Wimbledon title she’s won where she didn’t face Venus in the final (which I tend to feel always makes her the underdog, at least in her own mind), and to produce that kind of performance as the overwhelming favourite is quite something. Presumably I’m very late to the party on this (I prefer it that way, you don’t have to stay as long), but I find I’m having to readjust my thinking on Serena. For the first time, I’m truly placing her in the context of history, and not in a vaguely patronising breaking boundaries sense; in the sense of having a legitimate claim to being considered one of the greatest players of all time. Things look a lot different with those interpretive lenses on, and I’m curious to see whether, as I partly believe, Serena’s biggest accomplishments might be yet to come.

There was just such a, well, serenity about her in this tournament. Even when she barely drops a set on the way to other titles, there’s always a turmoil, a struggle that fuels her performances. While she was tested – that first set against Sharapova springs immediately to mind – I never felt like she was battling herself. She seemed, I don’t know, centred. Even in the BBC interviews I saw her give, she was totally at ease with herself and what she was trying to achieve, never more so than when she was laughing at herself. Perhaps I’m completely off-base, but I honestly feel right now like Serena could win three Slams a year for the next three years, because she’s found her groove. I don’t know, what do you think?

Anyway, she nabbed a Wimbledon this weekend, and that’ll do to be going on with.

Thirteen, baby.

Posted in serena williams, titlists, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Because I’m Rapidly Becoming a Berdych Fangirl …

Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010

Before I talk about the events of the weekend, I just wanted to post these pictures of 1973 Wimbledon champion, Jan Kodes, wishing Tomas luck. Because they’re sweet.

Although I gather from wikipedia that that’s only because nobody else turned up. Somebody asterix that shit, quickly.

OK … bloggage incoming …

Posted in tomas berdych, wimbledon | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 12: Ladies’ Final Preview

Posted by gauloises1 on July 3, 2010

Did I mention these two ladies are in the final? They are.

Best of luck with that, Vera.

Posted in serena williams, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 11: Not Nearly Enough.

Posted by gauloises1 on July 3, 2010

Tomas Berdych d. Novak Djokovic, 63 76(9) 63

I’m sorry, who are you?

No, really. Because this is not the Tomas Berdych that we’ve all come to know and … know. If his victory over Federer in the last round was all expressiveness and joy, this was cool, calm and collected. No less impressive for that, but surprising. Huge respect to him for what he’s done in this tournament. Sometimes, it’s your moment and that’s luck or destiny or whatever. More often, you are called upon to seize your moment. And Tomas was not found wanting in that department today. I badly want to add a comment about how he will be minced in the final against Rafa … but who knows? Plenty of people said that about Delpo against Roger at the US Open, and we all saw how that played out. It would be disrespecting Tomas and the exceptional tennis he’s displayed in this tournament to not give some mental room to the same possibility. Not that I believe it for a second, but stranger things have happened. Radek Stepanek, for one.

Anyway. In keeping with today’s theme, I have to admit my attention was absorbed more by the loser in this semi-final than the winner.

Once again, it wasn’t the loss so much as the manner of the loss that absorbed my attention. Perhaps I was too ready to be sold a bill of goods, but I was taking some real positives from the way that Nole performed in this tournament. After the first round when he was taken to five by Olivier Rochus, I felt like he not only knuckled down but rediscovered something of his old fire. It felt like he had conviction. Today, not so much. He was unlucky at crucial moments – the perfect lob called out in the second set tiebreaker will live long in infamy – but those moments were met with an ironic eye-roll and shrug to his box. It feels like, somehow, the Nole that we’ve seen for the past year – the one who’s almost embarrassed to be seen to be competing – was in full force and the old/new Nole had disappeared. His shots, once again, had no penetration. His game was toothless; it lacked bite. It hurt to watch. He was graciousness itself in his presser, but I’d rather a little less grace and a little more … win.

Ultimately, what Berdych had to do today was hold his nerve. He did, quite superbly. What Nole had to do … well, that would first have necessitated Nole getting on the court rather than being lost in transit. I still believe, though. I really do. I know he’s better than this.

As for Tomas … well, he’s been a revelation in these championships. And he’s earned a Wimbledon final – a Wimbledon final! Tomas Berdych! – in which I wouldn’t mind a few more revelations from his end of the court. Still, whatever he does or doesn’t do will not diminish his accomplishments. It’s a good position to be in. Poj’d me.

Posted in novak djokovic, tomas berdych, wimbledon | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

“The Life Is Go Fast.”

Posted by gauloises1 on July 3, 2010

Q. Looked a little like 2008 again.

RAFAEL NADAL: I never like the comparations. No, every year is completely different. For me was amazing day, very important victory for me, one of the more difficult victories of my career because the opponent was playing well and I need really to play my best tennis to try to win.

I think, yeah, I am very happy. Today is very important day for me.

Q. Because of all of what you had to go through last year with the injuries, is it even more satisfying now that you’re back here?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, that’s past. But, sure, I said in Monte‑Carlo, Rome, Madrid, Roland Garros, sure, when you had tough moments and wasn’t an easy year last year ‑ especially the second half of the year ‑ when you came back and when you still playing another time at your best, for sure I feel I playing at my best since the start of this season, since 2010 when I start.

But I didn’t win a tournament since 11 months, and after I started to win in Monte‑Carlo. So for sure that’s makes more special, because I worked a lot to be back playing my best tennis. I did, so that’s very important personal satisfaction, no? Probably is when you have tough moments and you are another time are in the top, yeah, is more special.

Q. Does 2008 seem like a long time ago when you were here raising the trophy as the champion, or does it seem like yesterday to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. Two years. Well, the life is go fast. Since these two year a lot of things happen to my life. Is not very far, but at the same time I have two years with different things.

Q. You were behind 4‑2 in the last set and you weren’t playing very well then. Suddenly you win the rest of the games as you became Rafael Nadal again. Did you have to wake up?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I felt a little bit tired after the second, after the second tiebreak. Was a lot of tension in that tiebreak in the last games of the second set.

When I started the third I lost a little bit my concentration and I felt little bit down. But that’s happen at only one game. After that game, after the first game. But, you know, in grass, one break is almost the set.

After that game I felt another time well. But Andy served well and I didn’t have lots of chances on the return. But when I had the chance, I did. So that was the most important thing of the match. I think of all important moments, just one double‑fault in the 5‑All in the tiebreak. But for the rest of the important moments, I played very well today.

Q. It will go down as a straight‑sets victory today, but how well did Andy Murray play?

RAFAEL NADAL: Andy’s amazing player, so I don’t know how well he played. You can answer him.

But when I play against him I always see the match very, very difficult, because he makes the very difficult things very easy. So he has a good serve, and the movements are unbelievable from the baseline, no?

He looks like he’s always at the way that you’re gonna play, so he’s very difficult. For that reason I think it’s one of the biggest victories in my career today.

[…] Q. Was it hard to recover from the double‑fault mentally?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, because I played a great point next point. But if Andy makes the serve and give me a set point was the set, so was important mistake. But I was lucky Andy missed the first serve, and later I had a chance to play the point from the baseline and I did well.

Q. What about Andy, you said to him after the match that he could win a major.

RAFAEL NADAL: I wished him best of luck for the rest of the season, and sorry for today. I know it was an important match for him I think because he play at home, and this is a chance for him to win probably the most important title for him win here at home in Wimbledon.

Just I felt sorry for him because he’s a very nice person, very good person. I am sure he gonna win a Grand Slam very soon, because when you have final in US Open, final in Australia, semifinals here this year and the last year, you are there all the time. So one day you win. I am sure he gonna win. He deserve to win.

Q. How well aware are you that he’s such a big fan of yours? He kept talking about you’re his favorite player to watch.

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, just can say thanks. He don’t need to admire a lot of things of me because he’s too good to admire me.

Q. Do you remember where you were the first Sunday of July last year? Did you watch the final?

RAFAEL NADAL: I watched at home, yeah, on the sofa.

Q. What are the recollections you have from that day? What else do you remember about the final last year, not being there?

RAFAEL NADAL: Just enjoying beautiful match. Was a very emotional match. I liked the tennis, so I enjoyed the match. I wasn’t ready to be here, so my mind wasn’t here.

Q. In view of Andy’s skill, were you surprised that you were able to close this out in just three sets?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sure. When I came to the match I was with the focus. I know how tough gonna be the match. I never thought win in three sets.

But at the same time, I never thought win in three sets, win in four, win in five, or lose in three or lose in four. I just go on court and try to play my best tennis point by point. That’s my style. I know I just need try play my best tennis. Only like this I going to have chances.

Q. Looking back now, does it surprise you you were able to complete this match so quickly?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sure. But he had few chances. This match is decides ‑‑ anyway, if was in three sets, this match is decide in very small things. If Andy makes this point and win the second set, maybe we are there. So everything can change in just one point.

Q. During the tournament we have found out from other players that they have been injured going into games. We found out after the game. Do you go into Sunday’s final a hundred percent fit? Your knees are ready to go?

RAFAEL NADAL: I hope so. I don’t know. I think I didn’t have any problem for the last three matches. But the pain in the second and especially in the third match is not forgot. Can be there and can’t be there in one moment, and I don’t have the control of this.

But I am still working every day to try to be healthy like I was the last three matches. But this pain sometimes appears there, and is there. I don’t know when it start and when it stop.

[…] Q. If you have to give a technical explanation why you won today, do you think it’s your forehand that was the big difference? Your forehand kills the point while Murray is a very good counterattacker, but it doesn’t have the same power when you slow down the ball and you slice your backhand.

RAFAEL NADAL: When you win these matches, is always the same thing: is play well and the mental thing. Mental part is decisive, no? If we talk about the technique, I served well some moments. Most of the time my serve works well.

And, sure, my feeling with the forehand was very good during all the tournament, yeah. Forehand makes the difference.

Q. We’ve had three classic finals in a row here. Do you expect to give us a fourth one Sunday?

RAFAEL NADAL: Ah, three five sets? Yeah, we had 2007. I don’t know. Sure, will be very difficult match. Will be very difficult match for me, and hopefully for him, too (smiling). I don’t know.

Posted in rafael nadal, wimbledon | Tagged: | 1 Comment »


Posted by gauloises1 on July 3, 2010

Q. Your thoughts on that?

ANDY MURRAY: Disappointed. You know, I had chances in all of the sets. You know, I haven’t seen the stats, but I would guess it was the difference of maybe five or six points in the match.

Yeah, he just played better than me. But I’m disappointed because I had chances.

Q. Did you feel you got into the rhythm of your own game during the match?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, yeah. But, I mean, you’re not going to be able to play every single point on your terms against the best player in the world, one of the best players ever. You can’t.

You know, you’re going to need to, you know, go through periods in the match where he can be dictating, and there’s periods in the match where, you know, I was dictating.

You know, it was tough. But, yeah, I didn’t feel like I wasn’t in a rhythm. I won a lot of points off my serve. You know, until the end of the match, he didn’t have a breakpoint until the last couple of games. Was obviously doing something right.

Q. When he hit that the double‑fault in the tiebreaker, I mean, it as a bit of a shocker. Did it throw you off?

ANDY MURRAY: No, not at all. I mean, not if you look at the next point he played. No, it didn’t at all. He played a really good point. He hit a big forehand. Hit a good pass. He hit a great angle volley on the next point. Hit a let cord passing shot on the next one.

You know, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Q. With all that was at stake today, how does this compare to what could have been for you in this tournament?

ANDY MURRAY: I’m annoyed I lost this match. There’s a great player in the final, and the other half has just beaten the No. 1 player ‑‑ No. 2 in the world and No. 3 in the world in back‑to‑back matches pretty convincingly, as well.

I’m disappointed I didn’t win today, because I wanted to reach my first final here.

Q. What was the game plan against him?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, you know, to serve well, which I did for a majority of the match. And when you get the opportunity, to dictate the points.

You know, the one thing I didn’t do particularly well today was return well. His serve is a lot harder to return than a lot of people think. A lot of slice, a lot of spin, and it’s heavy.

I didn’t return particularly well, but the rest of my game was good.

Q. Was it also about targeting his backhand particularly?

ANDY MURRAY: No, I mean, his backhand is good. He has a very good backhand. You know, his backhand’s good. His serve’s good. His forehand’s good. His movement is good. He does everything really, really well.

You know, there’s certain shots that, you know, you need to play to both sides, you know, to not let him get into a rhythm.

You know, like I say, I got myself in some good positions, and just couldn’t quite take it.

Q. Nadal played a stunning match. Is that any consolation now, or will it become one in the future?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, I’m not coming here feeling like I played terrible. You know, I’m disappointed to have lost. You know, I didn’t play a bad match at all. You know, I’ve had some good wins against Rafa where I played great tennis.

You know, it’s not like I played badly. Yeah, he played great, and that was the difference.

Q. Is that the best he’s ever played against you?

ANDY MURRAY: I have no idea. I mean, you know, a lot can depend on a few points. You know, but he’s playing very, very well. He’s obviously got a lot of confidence just now.

Q. Who do you pick in the final, Rafael or Berdych?

ANDY MURRAY: I think Rafa is the favorite. You know, he’s the best player in the world. He hasn’t lost here. He’s played three finals in a row, or four finals in a row now.

But, you know, Berdych is a great player, too. If he plays well, like he has been the last couple of matches, it will be very tough.

Q. Talk about the extra weight on your shoulders because of trying to win it for the home team here.

ANDY MURRAY: I mean, there’s a lot much pressure playing here. You know, it doesn’t affect the outcome of the matches. It’s not a valid excuse to make. I’ve played really well the whole tournament. I obviously want to win for myself. I want to win for the guys I work with. I want to win for, you know, the UK.

You know, a little bit more disappointing than other Grand Slams because this one is, you know, the biggest one of the year for me. And, uhm, yeah, it’s tough.

Q. What are you going to do now?

ANDY MURRAY: I have no idea. I’ll probably, yeah, go on holiday and stay away from the tennis court for a while.

Q. When you look back at tennis tournaments as a whole, are you pleased taking this result out of it, that you’re improving, heading in the right direction?

ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, a few weeks ago no one would have given me much of a hope of getting to the semis because I wasn’t playing well. Then, you know, I played a good tournament.

But, yeah, right now I’m very disappointed at the match today. Yeah, I’ll look back at the tournament as a whole in a few weeks as a good one, just not great.

Q. Does it strengthen your result to one day come back and win a slam, or does it spur you on in moments like this?

ANDY MURRAY: I hope it does. In the past it has made me work harder. But, yeah, I’ll have to wait and see. But I hope so.

Q. After the Australian you found it difficult to sort of get back into it straightaway. Are you concerned it might happen again after this result?

ANDY MURRAY: I have no idea. You know, just because it happened to me once, whether it was to do with the loss in Australia, whether it was, you know, other things going on, you know, you never know.

But, you know, I work hard, you know, and I hope it doesn’t happen again. I’ve normally played well in the American hard court stretch after Wimbledon. Yeah, hopefully I’ll play well again now.

Q. In what ways, if any, has Nadal changed his game since you played him in Australia?

ANDY MURRAY: No, there’s no huge change. I mean, you know, he obviously missed a solid chunk of the year last year and a little bit at the beginning of this year. You know, he plays ‑‑ the more matches he plays, the better he plays.

I don’t know, you know, if he hasn’t played a lot, you know, he makes a few more mistakes maybe. But, no. He was playing great in Australia. He’s playing great here. He’s one of the greatest players ever, so he’s always gonna play well.

Q. Is there a frustration factor out there when you play a lot of really good tennis and somehow it just keeps coming back?

ANDY MURRAY: No, ’cause you go on the court expecting it. It’s not a surprise. You know, I’ve always felt like, for me, it’s been one of the best parts of my game is making my opponent play more balls, chasing everything down. It’s just something that all of the, you know, best players tend to do. They’ll make you play a lot of balls.

No, I played him, I don’t know, over 10 times now, so nothing surprises me when I play against him. But I expect an incredibly tough match every time.

Q. I know you’ve only just come off court, but where does this one sit with your other disappointments?

ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. I’m very disappointed just now. I’m upset, you know, which is understandable. I have no idea. Yeah, just very disappointed.

Q. You’re good at opening up the court, playing far back. Is that a particularly tough strategy to pursue with him, given his skill set athletically?

ANDY MURRAY: No, I mean, it has worked in matches I’ve played against him. It’s worked very well. I’ve had some great matches with him. I’ve had obviously some tough losses, as well.

But, no, I mean, I think that, you know, I have my game style. I adapt to all of the guys that I play against. I’m sure the stats will say I came to the net more than I did in any of the other matches; I served and volleyed more than I did in any of the other matches; I was going for a little bit more.

That’s how you have to play against him. Just didn’t quite work.

Q. You again had great support today from fans who will be looking forward to you coming back next year. What will you say to them?

ANDY MURRAY: No, the support was great the whole tournament. Every year I’ve played here the support’s been great, yeah. Yeah, I’m disappointed for them, as well. You know, I obviously gave it my best.

But like I said earlier, I want to try and win the tournament. Yeah, I couldn’t quite do it. But the support I’ve had, you know, the whole two weeks has been great.

Q. You had a couple of conversations with the chair. Were you unhappy about the time he was taking?

ANDY MURRAY: No, I wasn’t unhappy with the time he was taking. I asked him once when we were changing balls, and that was it. I didn’t complain once about him taking too much time.

Q. What did Rafael say to you after the match?

ANDY MURRAY: He said, Bad luck. I just said, Good luck for the rest of the tournament. You know, that was it.

But, you know, I’ve said it for a few years. I love watching him play. He’s my favorite player to watch. That’s why I enjoy playing him so much. So I hope he wins.

Q. If you could somehow go back and change one thing about the match, what would that be?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, I think the second set, you know, it’s difficult to pick out one thing. I had chances in the second set. I thought I played a little bit better tennis in the second set and didn’t give him many chances on my serve. I created a few on his. Obviously, in the tiebreak, yeah.

Q. Is it annoying to have to wait so long to receive serve?

ANDY MURRAY: No, I don’t care. He can take as long as he wants on any point. I love watching the guy play. No, I don’t care. He can take as long as he wants.

Q. Coming off court, Rafa said he thought you’d win a slam and win one soon. What does that mean to you when someone you respect so much has got some faith in your ability?

ANDY MURRAY: I mean, yeah, it’s nice. Nice obviously to hear. Uhm, doesn’t make losing in one any easier.

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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]


Posted in andy murray, rafael nadal, wimbledon | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »