Saturday, 10 January 2009

A Steadying of the Ship and other Good Things...

OK look, I know it's his fourth loss in a row to the man (three if you discount that exho in Abu Dhabi), I know you have to go w-a-a-y back to 2005 to find the last time he got the better of Murray in a 3 setter, and I know he's only beaten him once since then (although it
was the US Open and their only 5 set encounter) but Federer's loss to Murray is not a big deal in the scheme of things, really it isn't.

A little embarrassing perhaps after this optimistic forecast he gave at the beginning of the week, and Murray now really
must be promoted from mere bugbear-in-waiting status, as he supersedes Nadal as Federer's new Jabberwock, but it surely doesn't warrant engaging in the type of Fedora*-baiting we saw in some quarters last year.

I said before that we're now at more of a natural crossroads of tennis, far removed from the lavish performances of the 'ethereal era' (which now almost have a mythic Camelot like quality to them), and one which is likely to be characterised by a more dusty, businesslike unruly jostling for rank and titles between the top four and to a lesser extent the next tier, headed up by guys like Tsonga. I saw nothing in Federer's performance inconsistent with that prediction.

It only confirms what we already knew: that Murray has not just his number right now, but by the looks of things, his email address, his numerous home addresses and probably a whole set of other personal information. I don't expect Fedora will ever have a consistently winning record against Murray - I do however expect a steadying of the ship beginning around say, the clay court season.


Having whined a little about the season not really coming alive in my last posting, I was glad to find that all change this week when in a series of quite eclectic and revealing performances, the tennis suddenly really did come alive (particularly on Thursday during those quarter finals at Doha) not with a bang, but more with the reluctance of a hung over worker daunted by the realisation that the holiday season is now really over, and kinda gets their act together.

So far for me this season has had a kind of 'false start' quality to it characterised by seemingly defining performances that have mostly been followed by a subconscious seizing up, that seems to suggest that the players are experimenting with different gameplans and strategies they practised over the off-season but are still a little unsure of and unable (yet) to fully commit to.

Here's what I mean:

  • Nadal, after delivering a quite inspired performance against Murray in the Abu Dhabi final, going out 4-6,4-6 to Monfils in Doha. I'm still however sticking with my prediction of good things happening on hard courts for Nadal this year.
  • Monfils, having vanquished Nadal (who by the way didn't play that bad a match) mostly with on-demand backhand winners as blinding as they were improbable, going out with a sore back to Roddick in the semis. Good things really ought to happen for Monfils too this year. His performance was certainly more coming-of-age for me than Gulbis' much lauded dismantling of Djoko.
  • Gasquet, after knocking off Tsonga in Brisbane (in what looks like either a remarkable comeback on Gasquet's part or yet more volatility from Tsonga) going down to Stepanek - who in this year's first venture into how'd-that-happen territory, then went on to win the tournament(!). I'm not dissing Stepanek, but I'm sure you'll agree, a somewhat ludicrous turnout for the books. Good things probably won't happen for Stepanek, unless of course he adds some voodoo to his already very toxic worm act. The real question is whether they'll ever happen for Gasquet.
  • Mauresmo knocking off Ivanovic, and then withdrawing during her match against Bartoli with a thigh strain. I really want at least some good things to happen for Mauresmo before she calls time. This injury however, is not encouraging. I'm not sure where Ivanovic is with her game - all at sea perhaps? anyone see this match?
  • Gulbis after his slightly hyped up win against Djoko, going down to Mathieu in what by most accounts was a fairly one sided encounter. Mathieu if his temperament didn't get in the way, strikes me as a quite underrated player and exactly the kind that good things ought to happen to - for Gulbis (as promising as he his), I feel they are still a year away.
  • Oh, and good things appear to be happening for the A-Rod - I was rather unpatriotically, secretly cherishing the opportunity for a good'ol Fedora v A-Rod final.
* Fedoras are stylish, classic, vintage much like his style of play and this nickname is very much in keeping with his slightly fashion conscious persona;

blog comments powered by Disqus


All images on this site have been found in the public domain.
Credit has been given wherever possible.
If you feel your copyright is being infringed upon by any particular image, please contact me and I'll have it taken it down.

You Said...

Powered by Disqus

Receive Updates by Email...

Enter your email address:

  © Free Blogger Templates Spain by 2008

Back to TOP