Friday, 26 June 2009

The Essence of Beauty...

Yeah I'll admit it.

I'm not really feeling it this year.

Forget what I said earlier about needing a clinical, tsunami-free first week. Didn't know what I was talking about.

I suppose what I meant is we needed a cap on the amount of matches that were going unnecessarily to 4 or 5 sets.

But even the most ordered universe needs it's share of space-time inflexions, much like what we saw in the opening day of The Championships two years ago when Tim
Henman came through in a five set epic against Carlos Moya.

Actually it was delayed by poor light and had to be played over two days. But factual nuances like that mess with the poetry of my space-time metaphor.

I'm just saying we haven't had anything like that this year, not from the first or second tier.

What we've had are blinding openers from
Federer and The Sisters (particularly liking what I'm seeing from Serena), more measured performances from Murray, Djoko, fairly unsubstantial stuff from Dinara and Jelena and....well, you get the idea.

Yeah I'll admit it. Watching
Federer dreamily carving up the opposition is no longer doing it for me.

[pauses a moment for 2Hander to find a car jack, so he can lift his bottom jaw up off the ground]

You read it right the first time.
TopSpin, connoisseur of single-handed backhands, decrier of the wave of 'standardisation' sweeping Womens Tennis, no longer stumbles off his stool at the sight of a Federer backhand down the line (well actually I do, but indulge me ok? - poetry, symmetry and all that).

Ok I think I better explain myself.

There was a time, back end of 2006, early 2007 being it's pinnacle, where I'd take pleasure in watching
Roddick getting carved up like he did at Melbourne 07 (to this day the closest I've witnessed, to perfection on a tennis court). I wouldn't even describe it as a particularly perverse pleasure, seeing as it was so beautiful.

I suppose I would only keep a half open casual eye on
Federer's early matches then, as I was so confident of him getting through.

But things have moved on and those aesthetic images and the
adages of watching a 'genius at work' now serve as little more than a zeitgeist of a bygone age. If anything this fourth act of Federer's career is all about grunt work. Elegant, unfazed grunt work. But grunt work all the same.

The ability to invent shots on the fly remains undiminished. Already this week we've had that extreme-angled shot round the net post and a scooped sliced volley against
Kohlschreiber today, that died so silently on the grass, you'd think the gravitational field in and around centre court had been temporarily altered.

But I'm no longer completely confident of him emerging entirely unscathed from the first week, which means I'm paying closer attention to his openers. And yes, in accordance with this being the year in which I learn to 'see it from the other side of the fence', I'm beginning to see what some people meant when they criticised his tennis as being less riveting by it seeming a little
too effortless at times.

I suppose I should qualify that by saying that,
that effortlessness was the essence of his game's beauty (God that sounds like a Calvin Klein ad).

But that was in '07. Even staunch Federalists would now admit he's no longer the player he was in Melbourne'07, which means today's effortlessness manifests itself with less magic. A kind of
laboured effortlessness (can you have that?). And I've become accustomed to seeing it.

There seems to be -- and this is purely subjective, feel free to rain down your heaviest blows --
more of a reliance on those less enthralling, but very properly constructed, longer rallies that culminate in a winner that rates rather less impressively as a 'religious experience'.

None of which amounts to very much of course, provided the results are the same. He dropped a set today, but I sort of expected that with a player of
Kohlschreiber's abilities on the other side of the net.

So treat the above as the kind of
unsubstantive dross you might hear on a late night show discussing Installation Art. Except it's art that drew me to his game in the first place so I think I'm entitled to criticise it with all the pretentiousness of an art critic (and I don't believe I mentioned anything about 'paradigms' or 'concepts' so it should be bearable).

But I was still looking for that elusive sizzler to light up the first week.

I didn't get it in the 3rd round match between
Azarenka and Cirstea - two of the heaviest ball strikers in the women's game. And two of the most exciting. I thought this was going to provide us with something special and it did sort of live up to it's billing for the first set, which featured some of the best ball striking I think I've seen in any womens match this week.

Cirstea faded badly in the second. She's got one of the top five serves in the game. That first serve in particular is hit without any fear at all. Much like the rest of her game; except she doesn't seem to understand how to take a step back at those moments where more conservative play is required - which I actually quite admire, as it demonstrates the gutsiness of a future top tenner. But it ended up costing her the match today.

And yet, as I finish up here, we've rather ironically got what looks like the match of the week.

I don't care. I'm not about to rewrite anything.

But Haas v
Cilic is not your usual epic. This is about Old School Tennis versus The New Age. Seriously.

Tommy's having to make some very considered decisions on when to come to the net, though you know he's itching to do so on every other point.

Marin's had a really hard time keeping his focus and nerve at the key moments.

Both have had two match points come and gone.

Oh look - Cedric
Mourier's having a smile after getting booed for calling up the ref to decide whether play should continue at 5-5 in the final set.

// Update

Both players held serve and play was eventually suspended at 6-6.

I really like Marin. A precocious talent with an
uber-wristy and rather risque forehand action, and an impressive future ahead of him. Both men have given their all.

(Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

But if Tommy doesn't win this one, I'll feel there's no justice in the world. :(
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