… seriously, it was!
I was reading TENNIS IS SUPER SEXY by James LaRosa and thinking how rare it is for tennis to make a big(ish) splash in the news. I could think of only 4 events in recent years: 1. Youzhny bashing his head w/ racquet becoming a YouTube phenomenon, 2. The Wimbledon 2008 final, 3. Roger Federer completing the career Slam and equaling Sampras in # of major titles, 4. Isner-Mahut. (*)
Two of those happened in 2008. A list of notable (good for publicity) stuff that happened in 2008, chronologically:
1. Novak Djokovic winning the AO. First man not named Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to win a Slam since AO ’05. Young and had already become a crowd fave in USO ’07.
2. Maria Sharapova winning the AO (bt Ivanovic in the final) and becoming world #1. Popular and hot. Sadly, her shoulder woes also started that year.
3. Youzhny. (The vid I’m linking to is from the official ATP channel and has over 500K views. But I remember the first non-official video uploaded reached over 1 million views in about two weeks.)
4. Ana Ivanovic winning RG. Popular and hot. Her slump began soon after and lasts to this day, but also to this day, hers is one of the most visited among athletes’ official websites.
5. The Wimbledon 2008 final.
(*) Honorable mentions: Agassi admitting to have used drugs in his book. Serena threatening TO SHOVE A BALL DOWN SHINO’S FUCKING THROAT. Serena and the Mysterious Case of the Broken Glass that Led to Foot Surgery.
2008: Rafa wins Hamburg (3rd Clay MS back then) in a Fedal final. Wins RG. Wins Wimbledon. (Wins Olympic Gold. Federer wins gold in doubles with Wawrinka.)
2009: Rafa wins AO. Roger wins Madrid in a Fedal final. Wins RG, completing Career Slam by bt Soderling (who bt Rafa) in the final. Wins Wimbledon.
2010: Roger wins AO. Rafa wins Madrid in a Fedal final. Wins RG by bt Soderling (who bt Roger) in the final. Wins Wimbledon. Wins USO, completing Career Slam by bt Djokovic (who bt Roger) in the final.
If I were the writer, I’d have the USO final be Fedal, but readers would see that coming from a mile away. This is still real life, after all, right?
I don’t remember where I saw it (LiveJournal, I think), but in a comment about Rafa’s USO victory Sunday someone classified it as something that “(It) was a long time coming.”
But it didn’t feel like a long time to me at all. It felt like 2 years, actually. One of the reasons why his story isn’t quite as emotionally charged as Federer’s for those looking from the outside/following through media reports.
Roger’s Achieving the Career Slam story spanned 6 years, with a nemesis being introduced in year II, an All Hope Is Lost chapter in year V (’08/early ’09), culminating in Resurrection and Glory: GOAT at last. That chapter was packed. Career Slam, breaking Pete’s record and to top it off, father of twins. (Roll credits, cue soundtrack.)
Rafa started out as a character in someone else’s story. Had no main villain of his own (maybe his knees – that’s why that RafasKnees twitter account ran by haters is sort of perfect, btw). It’s been a Monster of the
Week Season kind of deal with him – Blake, Berdych, Youzhny, Nalbandian, Soderling, JMDP. He was also widely considered a hardcourt mug and therefore his Career Slam stakes weren’t much hyped until 2008, when he won Wimb/Olympics and (finally) rose to #1. Then it all went very fast.
Reached his first AO final in ’09. Won. Reached his first USO final a year later. Won. And that was that. Wham-bam, thank you, m’am. There wasn’t much time to build up “will he ever?” drama. The RG shock defeat and villainous knee woes in between the hc majors triumphs (the ones that at first no one thought he could win) made the story sweeter, though.
So. It’s often ruined by overwrought tv segments, stereotyping and melodramatic articles. But The Great Fedal Narrative as it is – it’s amazing, really.
Not so much as an on-court rivalry, because their matches rarely live up to the hype – I count 5 out of 21 that are true classics. But as… Idk. An entwined fates sort of thing? Three consecutive Channel Slams, Career Slams b2b and a wiping of 21 of the last 24 Majors. That’s special.
As I was saying on a forum yesterday, I want a version of the Djokovic shirt where he’s playing a keyboard instead of holding a racquet. Howling to the moon would work as well. It’s sad that the closest thing to an internet meme tennis got was Youzhny beating himself in the head.
Cheerleading, double fist-pumpy WAGs, to close this top 3 centric, filler post.
Jelena Jankovic, after being asked a few too many off-topic questions in her presser: “Can I please talk about myself?” (LINK)
Janko Tipsarevic: *deletes*
Courtesy of the same mad screencapping abilities I used to save MARION BARTOLI FANBLOG X JAMES LAROSA/TTC for posterity. (Gratuitous link because I have immense fondness for that fan’s e-mail.)
So far, the pattern for SFs in Slams this year (WTA) has been two marquee players and two “surprises”. Serena/Henin and Li Na (mild surprise)/Zheng Jie; Jankovic/Dementieva and Stosur (surprise mostly because of whom she beat to get there)/Schiavone; Serena/Zvonareva (pushing a little with Vera being marquee) and Kvitova/Pironkova.
The Wimbledon surprises were particularly… surprising. And, unsurprisingly, they’re the ones having the worst aftermath. Kvitova hasn’t won a match since Wimbledon (0-6). Pironkova has won two, against opponents outside the top 100, with difficulty (2-6).
At least Pironkova is getting to strike a pose (almost literally *A* pose):
And since we’re here!!!: France’s Morgane Pons wearing what would have been Serena’s USO dress.
Ways in which this was a great USO Series for Federer despite the fact that his hair is looking the worst it has in years:
1. First defense since… Basel 2008. I think.
2. First Masters shield of the year. End of 7 months title drought.
3. Secured #2 for USO. Hasn’t been seeded bellow #2 in Slams for… trijillion years.
4. Wins over players who’d beaten him in their last meeting (Fish, Baghdatis and, more importantly, Berdych – revenge for Wimbledon QF loss).
5. Another opportunity to go http://nelsonhaha.com/ at non-believers.
TY, VINNY!! FISTPUMP!!
Ways in which this was a great week for Murray despite the fact that, NO, IT WAS NOT A SLAM:
1. First title of the year! And it was a defense! Defending a title is always great.
2. First time beating Roger Federer in a final. Also, first win over Federer after 3 straight losses, the last one being the AO final earlier this year. The match that set off a mini slump.
3. Amazing confidence boost after parting ways with coach. Maybe he SHOULD hire his mom. (Cute hug at the end there, btw.)
– BBC As It Happens: 2058: Good stuff from both players and smiles all around as Murray points to the sky and says something along the lines of Where I come from, this isn’t rain”, before Federer responds, “Where I come from, it is.” (THERE IS NO SUCH A THING AS A SUN IN SCOTLAND!!)
– Look at the players who have won this tournament from 2004 onwards. Fed-Rafa-Fed-Djokovic-Rafa-Murray-Murray. Scary era.
– A !!SMILING PIC!! of your 2010 Rogers Cup champ.