Sunday, June 10, 2007

Once, Twice, Three Times A Champion

AFP/Getty Images

Another One Bites The Dust
21-years-old. 21-0 in Paris. For all the anticipation of Raja's history-in-the-making, Rafael Nadal is making his own mark. No one in the Open Era has ever won 21 consecutive matches in their Slam event debut. No one. That to me is a record that is equally as impressive, if not more so, than most Slam singles titles won in the men's game.

Winning a title, any title, much less a Slam, is hard enough. Defending that title is even harder. Defending that title twice even moreso. Never losing a match in 21 matches at a debut Slam event? Priceless.

Even though he didn't play well, he played well when it mattered and walks away with a piece of history that might not ever be shared. By anybody.



I Love Guga (to the tune of "I Love Paris")
Of all the current or former Roland Garros champions that I've seen, on either tour, Gustavo Kuerten had the most beautiful game on the terre battue. Of course, I've only seen clips of Suzanne Lenglen who was beyond balletic, so the song goes, but I've seen Guga in his entirety in Paris.

It was great to see him again today presenting the trophies. Oh, how I wish he had another championship Roland Garros run in him. The sport would be the better for it.

AFP/Getty Images

Another Sad Love Song
Karen is right (see comments to this entry). I feel for Roger Federer. This was his chance. Raja walked into Roland Garros with confidence. The confidence of having finally defeated Rafa on clay. The confidence of having been there, done that, already. The confidence of having cracked the Nadal code. The confidence of his own mind, unfettered by any coach being around to muff up his tournament. The confidence of having escaped a semifinal he almost had no right to win. The confidence of facing a player playing no where near his best.

I feel for him. I know what it's like to excel at almost everything you take on. Except that one thing. I was a good student in high school. Got lots of A's. Physics, chemistry, Latin, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, Internatial Baccaluareate this, Advanced Placement that.... I excelled. But whenever calculus was presented to me, I'd shrivel like dried fruit and cower in a corner until it passed. I couldn't conquer calculus. Parabolas made me hazy. And I dreamed of being an engineer.

Paris is Raja's parabola. I'm beginning to believe he couldn't conquer Paris even if someone other than Rafa stood across the net in a final. He earned 17 break points. Seventeen. Yet, the Swiss meastro only broke once. Despite an uncharacterstic amount of short balls off Rafa's forehand side. (Unless, of course, you factor in Hamburg.)

But Raja couldn't do anything about them for the better part of three sets. He shriveled like dried fruit back on the baseline and waited for Paris to pass.

This was his chance. Perhaps his only chance. And he couldn't capitalize. He dreams of a Grand Slam.

I feel for him. I do.

But I feel more for the pundits who seem even sadder than Raja. Oh how they wanted to proclaim Raja the GOAT. John McEnroe and Mary Carillo grew silent after Rafa broke in the fourth set. Although, to be fair to Mary, she hasn't really been proclaiming Raja the greatest of anything of late. But JMac was audibly undone.

I continue to wonder if it's ever dawned on him, or many others like him, that their proclamations have harmed the very man they want to see make a particular kind of history.

Oh, well. Unless you're Rafa, his family, and/or his fans, today was just another sad love song rocking your brain like crazy.



Cheer up.

Wimbledon is right around the corner.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the AP article that made the CNN.com headline (brought to you by SI.com).

Click to enlarge

And here's Raja's post-match interview if you're interested.

58 comments:

sher said...

I'm so happy for Rafa! It was a great win for him. While Federer played horribly on the important points the rest of the time it was a fiercely competitive match, which does so much credit to this win. It's not like against Gonzo or someone like that whom Nadal grinds into dust -- there was work involved there! I'm a very happy fan! *grins* (He looked like he could barely stand when he climbed up to the stands, heh...went looking for the stairs, but they made him climb, and he was swaying! )

It's sad for Roger of course (just as Rafa said) but somehow it makes things so much more poignant, that Rafa stands between him and history.

My only complaint is with Bud Collins who after Rafa said in the trophy presentation that he felt sorry for Roger because he's a good person and a friend, had the mean spirit to say to Rafa in the on-court interview: "you made him feel very bad, congratulations!" Way to try to spoil his happiness over the victory! He already feels bad about feeling so happy, you have to rub it in? (Commentators are so annoying)

(i was in europe, that's why i haven't commented for a while)

Karen said...

Sher believe me if one could feel disappointment for an athlete, this is how I felt for Roger today. You could tell that he had put in the effort and when things came together in Hamburg I honestly think he felt he had a chance beat Rafa at the FO. I am very happy for Rafa, I think he deserved it and I believe he is in asset to his sport. As a matter of fact both of these men are assets to their sport and wish more athletes could be like them. ABC Wild World of Sports used to have a saying, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, today was one of those days when that statement was so true.

sher said...

Hey Karen,

I felt he had a chance all the time during this final. He just did not take them. I don't know if it was the pressure of Rafa's skill or something inside him, but he didn't convert those 5 breakpoints in the the first set, and gifted the next service game. After that it was an uphill battle.

I feel very very sad for him, but in a way for me it's the same "if he has to lose against anyone..." sort of thing. He didn't lose against someone like Canas (who is a good tennis player, but is just not a champion. I'll never understand why people pitted him in competition for the French. Why??). He lost against a guy who holds an unbeatable streak on ALL surfaces, plus 21-0 in French. I hope and indeed think that he'll take the positive out and be a competitor again next year.

And I'm so happy for Rafa. I was completely undecided who to root for in this final, so it was "may the best man win" for me. You said it best, about them both being assets to this sport.

Craig Hickman said...

Welcome back, sher. We missed you!

Karen said...

Hi Sher, Rafa played his heart out and he played the big points well. Craig, thanks for the shout out, for me my Achilles heel has always been things mathematical, and even now at my rip old age I still find maths the most daunting of subjects. Right now I can understand poor Roger, and like you said about the pundits, who never won anything of significance in their careers, except for J-Mac who can perhaps understand what it is to come soclose and yet lose out in the end. There are really no words to express what he is feeling right now and for people to say that he has no class by blowing off the worst journalist that ever lived in Bud Collins, says something about people. Did they want him to face the cameras knowing that right then and there his heart was on his sleeve and he was about to break down. Cheer up old chap, see you next year and guess what if you never win the FO, thats all right because right now you have a fan for life.

sher said...

Don't get me started on Collins LOL I swear, I cannot get over how gratingly annoying he is in commentary and how incredibly mean he is to both of the players I adore!

Karen said...

Yes he is a mean spirited old cuss. Roger and Rafa like I have said on many occassions are indeed assets to this sport that we all love. They carry themselves with dignity, do not have vitriolic comments to make about each other and seem to be genuinely good friends off the court. The look in Rafa's eyes when he approached the net was of such humility, and dare I say it embarrasment at having won this match. I am sure that Roger is going over and over in his mind, what did I do wrong. The fact is that just like how Roger plays the big points better against other opponents, and even against Nadal sometimes, on this stage, Rafa was just simply too good. And if hear onw more comment about the guy not having any Wilanders I will hunt down whoever said so and give them a piece of my Jamaican mind.

Craig Hickman said...

I'm not taking you on, karen. You're in rare form. Go on with your bad Jamaican self.

Karen said...

LOL hi Craig, I am just so upset at the comments that other people are making. Man, they are saying that Roger has no class to blow off Bud Collins. Bud Collins needs to acquaint himself with this word - retirement - the questions he was asking Rafa were not only inappropriate, they were just plain silly. Time to ride off into the sunset. And Craig, thanks for your lovely post. I know you are not a Fed KAD but thanks for the kind words about Roger. I guess, deep down inside you really do like the Raja and you really wanted him to win = admit it, you like Raja - LOL

Craig Hickman said...

Don't push it, karen. (wink)

Karen said...

LOL admit it - you really do like him or if you don't outrightly like him you feel bad for him that he lost and you were rooting for him to at least 2 sets of a 5 set match - LOL

oddman said...

OH, I'M SO HAPPY!!!!!!!!! I can't comment on the match, as I didn't view it yet, but I'm thrilled to bits!
I noticed last year Rafa trying desperately to get away from Bud ASAP during his postmatch interview, lol.
"I will fight like a lion" - yes, you did, Rafa, young lion. Awesome! I just can't say any more right now. Yay Rafaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Craig Hickman said...

Karen, I feel for Raja. That is all.

Now go eat your good food. (wink again)

Nonny said...

Some people can be jack of all trades; Collins needs to just stick to what he's good at (history) and drop the commentary. Just my opinion.

Count me as another fan of both players who knew no matter what the results, I'd probably be both happy and sad today. But kudos to Rafa. I also found it interesting that both the men's and women's winners made them both three-time RG champions. I know they were in different contexts and Justine's wasn't consecutive, but I just like the trivia.

Craig, I used to want to be an engineer too. I ended up having the opposite problem; was poor at physics, and ended up majoring in math as a consequence. Oops.

Anonymous said...

Watching the match now on DVR. When i left for church I'd already seen enough. I.E. the breakpoints. But, would it have mattered? He blitzed Rafa in the first last year. I think, in the end, the clay just won't allow Federer to be aggressive all the time. I don't know. Nadal didn't play his best. He was almost content to just hit high and wait, never really having to open up rallies himself, which he is capable of doing.

Will Fed ever win the French? Possibly. I think he has one more even money shot before you have to wonder about him staying at such a high level. I think if he wins, Nadal is hurt next year, or it's like an Aggasi run years from now.

I don't buy the "we should all feel bad because history was lost today." Federer won't get a Slam. And? I like competitive tennis. This isn't the Kentucky Derby. I don't want to see how many lengths Federer can win by.

The man had a cake draw, lost in the semi-finals only to realize there was a person who wanted to face Rafa less than he did and moved on. I just don't get why we feel bad for him. The man will end with 16 slams plus most likely. He's not a charity case.

I think you feel bad, or would have for Agassi. Who blew early chances in his career against lesser foes. You feel bad for Mac who blew a 2 sets to love lead. For Novanta(sp) in London before she finally got hers on grass. But, I don't feel bad for Federer because he couldn't win EVERYTHING.

Perhaps...he'll need one of two things. 1) To really start to dominant Nadal on all surfaces heading into one of these Paris showdowns. or 2) to play Rafa in more big matches. At the Opens...etc. Get used to the rivalry on a big stage away from Paris. So the next time on Philippe Chartrier court it's Rafa he's playing and not baggage. Not history.

Tennis right now is a celebration of Fed's talents. And now he's celebrating his own. The mixed court match, the firing of Roche, the matches with Pete later this year.

The fact of the matter is he hasn't bettered the #2 player in the world on any surface. On Hard they're pretty equal. And in London, Rafa was a set point away from really making that an interesting tester for Federer.

I want to see these two play at the US Open.

I dunno. I'm just not really to proclaim Fed the GOAT when he may not be the greatest of his era.

Nadal needs to serve more aggressively for sure, but the kid is 21. Let's leave history for a classroom and let these two rivals play.

-Peytonallen

Dan Scarlett said...

Superb, Craig---worth waiting for! I commented on another blog after Hamburg, that I thought Roger's (already immense, and newly stroked) ego would do him in at RG. I don't like Roger (he is not always the 'thoughtful gentleman" the press loves to fawn about---witness his low-blow remarks about Canas after losing to him) but I don't blame him at all for refusing Bud Collins--whom I have disliked (kind word) ever since his disgusting comment during a Longwood (Boston) tournament about ten years ago. I could care less if he's gay or not---but if he is, then the folowing is double-slime. It was the day after a special annual dinner event named in honor of a deceased Boston sports writer (can't recall his name). As a set-up for his punch line, he mentioned he had danced with the wife of someone or other:"What a dish she is!"--then he immediately said the writer's name, followed by (others with me heard it aso!)--"He would have died of AIDS except it had been around then." Just writing about it gives me a rapid heartbeat. My only regret is that i didnt write to his paper about it (Boston Globe). Can't believe someone, somewhere, didnt call him on it!
So yes, Rajda, you have my blessing in refusing that slimebag!htubj

Karen said...

Nonny, I hear your comments, but when we say we feel bad for someone, it is not because at least me, I think he is GOAT. I have always said that I dont consider Roger GOAT, for the simple reason that there have been so many players before him and those who will come after him who will lay claim to that title. The issue for me is that he went into this match more confident than he ever thought he could and figuring that he had a chance to win this one and put all the demons to rest. It would seem as if he took the game to Nadal and Nadal does what he does best, defend, defend, defend. I watched from the third set onwards and I really felt some amount of empathy for him because he was mixing it up and doing everything possible and still came up short. As for Dan's comments, like I said Bud Collins needs to acquaint himself with the word retirement and Craig, I will not say anything more about your feelings for Raja - that will be our secret (LOL and wink)

Savannah said...

Karen, Craig I'm enjoying your banter. Sher, I read your posts here. Nice to see you back.

Needless to say I am quite happy with the results today. I also have to admit that I watched the match without the sound on after the second set. What a pleasure that was. I had a feeling that there would be silence in the booth during that fourth set. When I watch it again I'll leave the sound on.

Craig you've made the point again and again about hype being a double edged sword. I think the journalists had convinced themselves that Raja was taking this, totally discounting Rafa and trying to do a job on him mentally. I haven't been reading about the match so I'm glad to know Rafa refused his pre match media thingy. His team is not oblivious to what is going on and that is a good thing.

I too find it interesting that that comment of Roger's was deleted from the Yahoo article. It's even more interesting when you watch today's match and notice that when it mattered dominating, controlling Rafa showed up and proved that at any time he could take over the match. He chose not to. It was a risky strategy but it worked - a tennis version of Ali's rope-a-dope. Those rallies where Rafa delivered blow after blow before delivering the coup de grace were awesome to watch in their beauty and brutality.
If this had been a heavyweight fight the cut man would've had a busy day.

Rafa's win over Moya, his friend, showed him how to win without his usual flourish. Compare the Djokovic match with both the Moya match and today's match. The Moya match was very much like todays.

I ready one article that said Rafa bullied Federer today. And Federer knows it.

nonny said...

Heh, actually I'm the one right above those comments, Karen. Peytonallen is the one below me. By the way, great comments, PA. I also understand where you're coming from. If you're arguing for a sense of perspective, agreed. I'm going to feel it's tragic when history is lost because of something like what happened to Monica Seles. Today was nothing like that. I'm not mourning lost history because I like both players equally and they're both young enough to keep making history.

As a fan of Roger, however, I think I can empathize with him without going to the two extremes of saying it's a tragedy or saying its opposite, that it doesn't matter. We all know what it's like to lose something we want. Eventually we're able to come to terms with what we have, but the initial moment after is still emotionally painful. That's how I feel for Roger, simple as that.

So I think I'm more with you on this one, Karen. :)

Anonymous said...

Rope a dope. Interesting. :) Watching the 4th now. Rafa has clearly found another gear. He's worked the mind now he's going after the kill.

Good stuff. What's amazing is that he's only 21. Courier just said he's still improving on clay and other surfaces. Nadal will get better. Scary.

sher said...

From the tone, I think the two annonymous people are different anons. True or false?

I have to take issue with "anonymous":

First, either you care about their status or you don't. You can't say that GOAT discussion is irrelevant and immediately go on to suppose Federer isn't the best in his era. Both statuses will be decided with time. I'm fully prepared to look back on this in 5-10 years time and decide then. There is only such "facts" atm: Roger is #1, Rafa is #2 in the world, Roger lost, Rafa won his third FO.

Second, whatever sympathy I feel for Roger is out of liking him as a human being and a tennis player. I feel bad whether it's in Basel or Tokyo or Paris. It's not about the ellusive GOAT, it's about one of my favourite players losing.

What I don't understand is why it's not allowed to like Roger because he's had the talent and luck to win 10 majors. Is there a quota? After a player wins maybe 5 Grand Slams he's gotten enough goodness out of life that he doesn't need our love? So when does Rafa's time come up? If he wins another FO is it okay to like him still, or has he already had enough? But since he's only got 3 now, I suppose he's a "charity case"!

Where is the logic?

Craig Hickman said...

I'm loving this discussion.

Carry on.

sher said...

Thanks, savannah (and craig, earlier), it's good to be back. I read your posts too.

That is an awesome point about Moya's match being similar to todays. I think I agree, and when I rewatch I'll pay more attention!

Speaking of similarities across matches...

One thing I noticed as a detail of Djokovic's match is that he attempted against Nadal an exact mirror of the shot with which Roger won the match in Shanghai semis. (Remember when Rafa hit drop shot at the other corner of the net and Roger raced there to hit it for an unexpected winner?) Well, Rafa set up exactly the same point against Djokovic and Djokovic raced to the net exactly the same way as Roger had but he hit into the net. I like the idea that either Rafa is better or Djokovic still has a lot to learn.

Anonymous said...

Sher, i could care less if he's the best of his era or not. My comment was a shot at the media, who want instant gratification. Our time is the greatest, yesterday doesn't matter. My point was by not waiting, they're short changing Nadal.

Root for who you like by all means. I loved Agassi growing up and wanted him to win every match.

I guess it is the story, the only major he doesn't have. Going for the Slam. You have to play it up. But, as a fan i appreciate that Nadal has stopped the game of men's tennis from becoming a mockery. Fed winning everything.

Fed simply getting beat isn't sympathetic to me. He'll win two more this year. I don't see why we're all supposed to cheer his brilliance and shed a tear when he loses once a year.

Karen said...

Sher thanks very much for those qualifying comments. I think the problem that a lot of people have with Roger is the fact that he has been beating the living crap out of the other players on the tour, some of whom are favourites of people on this message board and many others. That being the case, people enjoy when Rafa or whomever gives Roger what they consider to be his comeuppance. I am always happy when of my faves wins and believe me Roger is not only my favourite player. I like a lot of players on the women's side and on the men's side as well and it is always disappointing to me as a fan to see my favourite lose. I recall earlier this year during the first part of the season a lot was being said that Nadal could only win on clay as he had not won a tournament since he won the FO back in June. Every player has their moments and I believe Roger's time at the FO will come. I dont honestly think that Roger is trying to go for the GOAT title, I think he just wants to win the FO and be done with it. It is not as if he cannot win on the surface, as he has I believe 6 clay court titles. With that being said, he has an all court game and one day, when the stars are aligned again and perhaps one of the other weak-kneed liver lilied players takes out Nadal, then and only then will he perhaps win the FO. Until then he is still my guy and I love him. Someone I think on this board said something really funny - perhaps Davydenko tanked the match because he did not want to be the one to face Nadal then again Roger may have been trying very hard to lose that match as he knew he was no where physically ready for Nadal - anywho it all becomes moot now as the better man won on the day. To all the Rafa fans, enjoy your victory. To all us Roger fans - here come Wimbledon. Craig, dinner was good - boy you should taste that chiken and rice and peas with that really good jerk sauce. You really need to take a trip to the Caribbean sometime - LOL

Craig Hickman said...

Peyton, just to make it clear, I'm not shedding any tears for Raja. I'm simply saying I can identify with his quandary. No more; no less.

Craig Hickman said...

Keren, I love a good jerk sauce. Bottle me up some and send it my way!

MadProfessah said...

Rafa bullied Raja? I think Raja blinked. 1 out of 17 on break point conversions?? That is crazy...

Congratulations to Rafa, now bring it at Wimbledon and the hard courts in America...

I do believe Rafa is going to get better, I also think Raja is going to get smarter...

199-7 against everyone NOT named Nadal over 3 years, 4-8 against Nadal.

sher said...

Anonymous:

"Fed simply getting beat isn't sympathetic to me. He'll win two more this year. I don't see why we're all supposed to cheer his brilliance and shed a tear when he loses once a year."

And that's your prerogative! Isn't it nice that we can feel different ways about different players? For example, many people hoped that Gasquet would win something at FO, but I don't really care either way. And here you are with your indifference towards Roger whereas I'd like nothing more than for him to win something, soon. It's all good.

*

Karen:

That's the sad thing that I also noticed, about people feeling like someone should beat Roger just because. Soon enough many people will feel that about Rafa (right around Wimbledon time) because he's been so successful. That's why they ground him into dust for the rest of the year in 2006, bcause he's been beating favourites left and right.

One of the saddest moments ever watching an interview for me was when Rafa after he won Indian Wells, defended his performance with: "I wasn't half a disaster back then, you know." It's unfortunate that the media can make him feel so backed into the courner that QFs in Grand Slam is a "disaster".

Same with Roger, I hope he blows off all the Bud Collins in his way to Wimbledon and just plays for himself, screw history.

*

It's fun that this one match can generate a discussion about tennis. That's why I hang around here. Regardless of our differences, at least we care enough to post.

helen w said...

Craig, I'm not sure why Roger's lost makes you sad. I saw your post over on Peter Bodo's blog on the same subject. I mean no disrespect, I'm just curious.

One of the most magic aspects of sports is that you can try as hard as you can to win, and still lose, and the sun still gets up tomorrow morning and life goes on. I am in awe of anyone who can let it all hang out in front of a huge audience like that, in competition no less -- I would feel so exposed!

Obviously something touched your heart, and I wonder what it is.

Karen said...

Helen, he is a Fed KAD just like the rest of us. Craig, I will make sure to arrange to send some truly authentic Jamaican jerk sauce to you. (makes note to get mother to make it and send to Craig). I should warn you though that once you have the real Jamaican jerk sauce you will also become a Fed KAD and once a Fed KAD always a Fed Kad. Man I am loving this discussion. Everyone is so reasoned here - making their point without become offensive. that is really nice guys, now someone should go tell those crazies over at ESPN that IT IS A SPORT - and yes the sun will rise tomorrow morning - and Craig, just to confirm I never did actually pray for Roger this morning - more important things like parents and such but I hoped in my heart that he would win. Can you believe that people (the talking heads) are now speculating that Fed may be too old to win this. I swear these people are a bunch of also rans, has been, never was. When people like Justin Gimelstob can criticise players, something is really wrong with the world. A player whose claim to fame - making up the draws at the 4 Grand Slam tournaments. oh boy. Savannah is that a picture of you - how do i get my picture up on this message board - it would be good to have membership to your blog what say you Craig. Feel up to having a picture of moi on your blog space - hehhehehe - it would probably be one of myself and Roger - now that I think would give poor Craig a heart attack - LOL - have a great Sunday eveyrone, loved the discussions and the banter - going to take a shower and get ready for Round 2

Savannah said...

Actually Karen that is a not me me. I am very superstitious about some things - I come from a family where getting people to take pictures is like pulling teeth - but I was stunned to find this pic of a woman at the French Open with the clay court reflected in her shades. I did a double take since she looks so much like me. I asked my daughter and she said that except for the nose she's my twin.

I don't think Craig or I have any issues with guest bloggers. As you know Moose has contributed quite a bit this French Open.

I'm still debating about leaving the picture though. It really isn't me.

This has been a great tennis discussion. I'm afraid to go to the ESPN board now! LOL

Every now and then a sane discussion breaks out. There have been a couple over the last day or so. When that happens someone usually reports the thread and it gets deleted. Go figure.

I watched Roger's presser on the RG site. He is still on that river in Egypt Karen.

If you get a chance to watch it let me know what you think.

Craig Hickman said...

Craig Hickman said...
helen w, Roger's loss doesn't make me sad. It makes Roger and the pundits sad. Sad is the right word to desribe his aura during and after the match. Sad is the right word to describe JMac's tone of voice in the fourth set and beyond.

That is what I meant.

That's why I told peyton that I'm not shedding any tears for him, but I'm simply able to identify with what it feels like to not be able to conquer that one thing you want so much and/or that makes you hazy.

karen thinks I'm a closet Raja Kool Aid Drinker. I'm not.

But humanity is humanity. Raja showed his sadness today, and while he doesn't always show much emotion, it was nice to see him exhibit such realness.

That is all.

And yes, my peeps, it is wonderful to have such a great discussion featuring different opinions and no personal attacks.

karen, you can create a blogger profile and upload any picture you want to upload. And when you want to be a guest here and post your own entry, just let me know, send me an email, and you're off and running.

That goes for anyone whose opinions (and writing) I respect.

helen w said...

Well Craig I am touched by your empathy for him. I agree that he rarely shows emotion, outside of a quick shout of frustration or fist pump, so it is touching to see him let his deeper feelings show.

And yes I know you are not a Raja KAD :)

Savannah said...

Thanks for clearing up what a Fed KAD is.
I'll have to be content with being a RafaTard.

Savannah said...

Oh yeah, and Bud Collins should have been told to gracefully step aside a long time ago. I think he's very soothing to a certain demographic and that's why they keep him.

Now I can't wait to hear JMac's voice in the fourth set.

I have to say Fed was very emotional IMO. That was why Rafa kept looking at him. He wasn't able to put the face on for this one.

Craig Hickman said...

I agree, Savannah. There is a very moving photo of Rafa looking at him that I will post above in just a minute.

Karen said...

Savannah you will now have to tell us what a Rafa Tard is - enquring minds want to know. That being said, people always used to criticise Roger because he showed no emotion on the court, did not get all fired up with the come ons and the staring down - he just went out there and did his job held up his trophy and that was it. The first time he expressed emotion was when he won the AO in 2006 and he cried at his victory speech The next time I saw him show emotion was this year at Hamburg when he went over and kissed Mirka (makes note to get Mirka out of Roger's hands) and the third time was when he lost the FO this year. I actually saw tears in his eyes, hence him refusing to speak to that pachydermous (sp?) Bud Collins. Craig, let me know how to create a blogger profiel - do I give you my email address and you send the info or do I just email you, if so, an email address would be nice. Savanna, you are bad, let the picture remain, it looks good. Another thing about Roger and his emotions is this - the country where he is from - I had a Swiss teacher in high school. She taught me French. A colder person you could not find, but very warm, sympathetic and understanding individual. She was originally from France but went to Switzerland as a child during WWII and she told us stories about that period of time in Europe. She spent most of her life in Switzerland and like I said she was not very emotional but she was an excellent teacher and discliplinarian. You could also look at Roger's life. He left home at a young age to learn his craft, there were no parents, no siblings, no anybody just the academy and training. The difference is Rafa who still lives at home, is still surrounded by friends and family and still has this boyish thing about him I think the one constant in Roger's life right now is Mirka. She is supportive, caring and I guess she will continue to hold his balls while he strives to achieve greatness (get the thought out of your heads)

Craig Hickman said...

Karen, creat a blogger profile first and then email me at craighickmanontennis@gmail.com. I'll talk you through the rest. It's pretty simple.

Karen said...

Craig, I tried to create a blogger profile my first time on this blog and it kept telling me to enter these characters which I kept doing and I did it like a 100 times and still nothing, anywho I am never someone who gives up so I will give it another shot and then let you know. Yes, this time around Roger could not fake the I lost but I am happy look. He was completely and utterly devastated today and that is why I feel for him so much.

Karen said...

Craig, it finally worked for me yeaah - i will email you in a minute - man this is so cool

Karen said...

Craig,I dont think he is actually on that river in Egypt I just think for his own peace of mind and sanity he has to be on that river in Egypt. I dont believe he can find it in himself to admit to the world that on this surface he is second best. To me that would defeat the purpose of him being a professional athlete in the first place. I have said this time and again what separates Roger Federer from the rest of the pack is that he does consider himself unbeatable. Every time he steps out on to a court, he believes that no one can touch (save and except for Rafa, and then again only on clay). He realises that with matching up with Rafa he has to change his style of play and do something a bit more, hence hiring a coach and trying out new things, hirin a left handed hitter, to name but a few. As a professional he knows that what stands between him and the FO is Rafael Nadal. That is why I believe he was so overcome with emotion today, because he has done all he can do and has still fallen short. I hate to say it, but better luck next time. And another thing ... can you imagine if there was no Rafa - everyone finish my thoughts - we would have the GOAT

sher said...

Karen: agreed on the last comment, because first of all why should Roger admit anything to the press -- they are after all vulters, the majority of them. For his own sanity, as you've said, he has to keep spinning the old line. It's the actions that count in the end.


As for the other thing, Savannah, you're right on imho. Rafa was glancing at him and looked so helpless. He wanted somehow to make it okay that he won and Roger lost, even though it couldn't be. Obviously it's a difficult position for him to be in. He's always said he respects Federer and I never thought it was just a line (I don't think Rafa is much given to lines, and his English is not good enough to lie convinvingly anyway). Which is why Collins made me so utterly furious with his "Roger refused an interview for the first time ever so that goes to show how bad he was feeling. You made him feel very bad, congratulations, Rafa!" Those words are stuck in my head as is Rafael's expression. For the first time since realizing he's won he did not look happy at all for that moment.

sher said...

Craig, I also thought your comment about relating to him this once is touching.

bogledance said...

I completely agree with the comments about Bud Collins. I felt so bad for Rafa having to deal with his questions (especially with the awkward setup about Federer's refusal), and if I were Federer or anyone else I would refuse to talk to him as well.

Craig Hickman said...

I missed the Bud Collins quip.

The man is senile.

helen w said...

Stop! Stop!

Frequent mention of Bud Collins is too much temptation to keep steadfastly resisting! The Tuesday rant will come early if you don't stop tempting me.

If only Bud were just senile, I could bear with him. But he is smug, insensitive to the point of cruelty, and offers his pronouncements with the eclat of an Oracle. Never have I seen him evince the slightest hint of humility.

Aaarg.

Craig Hickman said...

Rant, helen w, rant!

rabbit said...

I only hope that Australian Open 2007 does not turn out to be the last tournament where Federer played his beautiful game.

Craig Hickman said...

Interesting thought, rabbit.

helen w said...

And we thought we had problems with the TV coverage ....

http://sport.guardian.co.uk/tennis/story/0,,2099898,00.html

helen w said...

Oops -- url got truncated again -- here's the last part (the article is typical Brit humour)

story/0,,2099898,00.html

just put the two parts together

oddman said...

Oh, damn, I'm late for the party - is it over? Great comments everyone, and such a civilized discussion - I love it! Craig, this is an awesome blog site. I want to add my 2 cents in here about feeling 'bad' for Roger, I could see his disappointment and devastation, but I could not feel bad for him. Perhaps it's the neverending attempt by the 'anti-fans' (luv that descrip) and media to force-feed him to me, that I should love his game cos he plays such pretty tennis, vs Nadal's 'ugly' style. Boy do I hate that. Or the 'one-dimensional' comments I hear - well, that one dimension is pretty friggin' awesome on the clay, and occasionally on the hardcourts as well. I don't think Rafa's run to the Wimbledon final last year was a fluke - the will to win can take one far. As Craig is wont to say, tennis is more mental at this level. I think Rafa showed his mental strength today. And I'm still undecided about how some of Fed's comments come across - I try very hard to be objective about them, but get the sense they can be churlish. Perhaps that's only cos I'm a RafaTard though. Bias, bias, I know. That said, I do agree the media has been over the top this whole tournament, and Budmeister was the last straw. Did you see how uncomfortable Rafa looked the whole time he was talking to him? I could feel that through the TV, and was totally empathizing with Rafa. Time to hang up those crazy clothes, Bud.

As for Federer, I give him full credit for trying, and taking on the enormous pressure of the media gabbling away about GOATs and the like - he's had to put up with SO much hype, and think he started believing some of it. When it's shoved in his face day after day, well, human nature and all... Refusing to talk to a hurtful man is a step in the right direction, IMO. He is a great tennis player, and number one in the world (for a long time now) and he does do some incredible things both on and off the court. I think it's very telling re: Rafa's expressions and 'apology' to Federer postmatch - he must have an idea what Roger is going through.
Re: JMac, well, too funny! I was finally able to watch some of the last set only (still waiting to get to that tape) and he sounded so devastated - shame on me for enjoying that? - NOT! Aren't commentators s'posed to be non-partisan? Again, maybe it's my Rafatitis talking though.
I'm so happy that Rafa keeps things interesting, otherwise it would be so boring watching one person winning all the time. And he's only improving, trying hard to be a contender on grass and hardcourts too. His fighting spirit and will to win are qualities that keep me one of his biggest fans - Vamos, King of Clay!

Craig Hickman said...

helen w, the article you linked is a hoot. Thanks for posting.

edma1022 said...

Wow, the discussion here is top-notch. Sorry i missed it. (I was staying away from the ESPN and other boards - a henhouse IMO).

Rafa was so powerful he even broke a ball flat ! This kid is the perfect counterpoint to Roger. Great stuff indeed.

Congratulations, Craig. This blog is really aloft.

ed

sher said...

Yeah, I thought tv coverage was bad in North America but actually as I found out: they only show the french players in France, which means by the end of the mid-second week there was very little FO to be found on TV. The complete matches later on are shown only on cable tv (i imagine), not on basic chanels (i know). It surprised me -- this being their tournament and all.

Rhology said...

I'd like to know, Craig and any other commenters, your opinion on how Raja (not Rafa) would've done against Mr. Guga in his prime.

Craig Hickman said...

rhology, I think Raja gets trounced by Guga on clay during his prime. Hell, he got trounced on clay by Guga when Guga was past his prime.

As it is, Guga is the last person to defeat Raja in a Slam in straight sets.

On other surfaces, it would've been competitive. Guga's backhand down the line would've made Raja scramble to that inconsistent forehand of his more than he would've liked.

But Raja still takes most of their meetings off clay.

Just an opinion.

I rarely do the "who would beat whom at their prime" discussions because they're so futile, but since you asked...