By sachs on Jan 8, 2009 | In tennis
Tomorrow in Arabia: Federer vs Murray, Roddick vs Monfils. Monfils apparently destroyed Nadal today. A great start to the season this line-up- what a shame I've no TV coverage to watch it. Some thoughts on Fed v Murray: last week, Murray beat Federer at an exhibition tournament. Federer has won THIS tournament (Qatar) several times. It is worth ATP points, but not a lot. Will Federer give a grand slam effort level to stop the growing Murray mo? Or will Federer roll over in these semifinals, giving Murray one more tough match in tough conditions just before the Australian Open? Last year, actually, the last several years, Fed and Nadal played far more matches than any other player, and you can bet that they felt it. I wonder if Federer wouldn't mind welcoming Murray to the big time with a little more court time? OK, I doubt it too- but there's no doubt that Rog can set different effort levels depending on how he sees the importance of a match. Could that idea, that he doesn't NEED to kill himself to start the season, be a factor?
Wish I could watch it, their US Open final was one-sided but showed off the shot-making these two can produce. The Roddick/Monfils match should also be a lot of fun to watch.
Hopefully the match-ups will be this good in the televised Australian to come.
By sachs on Sep 9, 2008 | In tennis
I hope you saw last night's match. I missed the first set, because our CBS affiliate (may their name be forever cursed) chose not to carry it and I had to frantically call the local bars. By the time I arrived, it was 6-2, 2-0 Rog. Now, unlike the breathless bar patrons and TV men, I have some critiques of Roger's performance, but I will let that pass for today. This is the time to celebrate the golden racquet.
This was a thrashing, there's no mistaking that, and despite Murray's win over an exhausted and slow footed Nadal, I think it emphasized again the distance between our top two and everyone else. Many have wondered whether Roger would be comfortable in the role of #2, or whether, like Sampras, his descent into retirement would be quick. I think those questions were answered last night, if not by the game, by post-match comments about what a great place the tour is today, his respect for the players around him, and his hunger to continue.
If there is one shot I will remember, it was the lob. 5-0 in the third, that sucker disrupted air traffic above. I had a pint waiting for it to come down. It was a great example that Roger wins with shots we've never seen before.
Thanks for another great one Rog.
I usually find the Masters Cup as almost an exhibition tournament, but this year I think many of us are looking forward to it. Certainly we can't wait for the Australian and a new season watching two of the greatest of all time locking horns across the globe.
I can't find that lob yet on YouTube, but this one'll do:
By sachs on Sep 8, 2008 | In tennis
Watched part II of Nadal Murray yesterday. Despite the ravings of Johnny Mac on Murray's impressive play, the win yesterday does not indicate that the men's field is opening up. That was just not Nadal at his finest, he's tired, beat up, and simply had an off day. I saw these two play in the semis in Toronto, and Nadal tore him apart. While Murray definitely played better yesterday, the bigger change was in Nadal who just wasn't cranking those terrifying forehands, and more importantly, wasn't showing that same determination to chase down every ball.
The absolute lock Federer and Nadal have had on the finals spots may be a little bit looser- but that dominance was truly unprecedented, and even those two will have off days when the pretenders can slip in. But I still see this as a two-horse field. I think a more interesting battle will be occurring underneath them, as Djokovic is challenged by Murray, Robredo, Monfils or Del Potro.
Of course, I'm setting myself up to look silly this afternoon. Rog, don't make me a liar!
By sachs on Sep 3, 2008 | In tennis
Watching the latest brouhahas percolating on the men's tour, the open disdain Murray showed for Del Potro before their match, the mocking of Djokovic by Roddick, I wondered where this has been for the last few years. It came to me that we have reached the end of Pax Roger, and there is chaos and violence in the pack as a new ordering takes place. Think of how genteel a place the tour has been these past few years, then think about the men's behaviour back in the most recent "wild west" days. In the twilight of the Sampras Era, we had a gang of 1st-Seeds-In-Waiting: Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, Ferrero. All had some snarl and arrogance to them. Then Rog came and quieted everyone down. It's one thing to strut and crow when you have a legitimate claim, or hope, for the throne. It's another thing when you have an acknowledged master- and Federer certainly was master to Roddick and Hewitt, embarrassing them on big occasions. Then Rafa came along, and for the past three years, the men have hardly had any hope of reaching a Grand Slam final let alone a shot at the crown. I think this order imposed a certain restraint on the masses. It would just seem silly for players to be baring their fangs at each other. Roddick developed a sense of humour, Hewitt quieted down, Safin just plain disappeared.
Now the order is shaken, and although Rafa is clearly the cream of the crop, he has not yet established his dominance in the way Roger did.
So the dogs fight amongst themselves again.
By sachs on Aug 27, 2008 | In tennis
My first guy in tennis was Edberg. I loved watching him play, I loved his demeanor and sense of humour, but I really loved the way he played. Fluid and beautiful. I remember his loss to Chang at ROland Garros (I was 15, watching at a friend's), and his battles with Becker at Wimbledon.
After he left, I lost track of tennis for a while. Its always a shocker to me that Courier has won multiple grand slams. I just wasnt paying attention then.
But I got back into it without a favourite in the mid-90's, and then Gustavo Kuerten came along. I'd been writing a novel about a tennis prodigy, someone with an instinctive and somehow magical game. That was Guga. He was like a poem on the court, or a painter. His charisma was unmatched. He played just as I imagined my fictional character playing. He took No1 and was just beginning to show himself a force on the hard courts- then, injuries. When Guga started to get hurt, I wondered that a player with such artistry would come along again. But there was Federer.