Sunday, 5 July 2009

Splendour in the Grass...

(Photo: Julian Finney/AFP/Getty Images)

Um...can I say something about the final now? Yeah? Good.

Truth be told, I wasn't even going to post today.

I think, with what we've seen here these last two years, we can safely say that the era of sitting through the Borg v McEnroe 1980 final during rain delays is well and truly over. Rain delays on centre court: also well and truly over.

Each of the following points warrants a philosophical treatise that time, space and a wish to spend my evening in a non-tennis related way, prevents. Apologies in advance for the distinctly pro-Roddick slant - but I think you already know I sort of believe R
F is a near-mythic hoofed, four-legged creature anyway.

-- The audience is introduced to Roddick 2.0, the one that no longer plays caveman tennis. The Roddick with a highly developed and dependable double handed backhand that allows him to hold his own in rallies in a way he's never really accomplished before.

The Roddick with exquisite sense and touch at the net. The Roddick that's not about to let 'history', an 18-2 H2H, the presence of Tennis Greats, or the 'aura' of the bloke on the other side of the net get inside his head.

OK they already met with him in his previous matches opposite Hewitt and Murray. But still, to come out playing with exactly the same composed positive frame of mind opposite a guy whom virtually no one gives him a scrap of a chance against says something about him, and what the match may turn out to be.

"OK, but that is not your usual victory game face"
(Photo: Glynn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

-- The theory that this was all going to be about Roddick's serve and the way Roger counters it is turned on it's head. Roddick was impressive from the baseline and the forecourt - Roger served 50 aces, almost twice the number Roddick did. Go figure.

-- That said, my theory -- ok Pat Cash's -- that this was going to be played right to the hilt, and would be mostly about tie breaks, was not that far off.

-- I'm gonna say that again. Roger Federer served fifty aces in a five set match against probably the greatest server that ever lived. And only four double faults.

-- That volley Roddick misjudged at 6-5 up in the second set breaker, will remain forever etched on his tennis psyche. That was the match
gone, right there.

-- And yet he rallied back, giving us further evidence that this is Roddick 2.0, the one that doesn't allow a setback or the prevailing sense of inevitability to derail him. This was his time.

-- Roddick went through a large portion of the match, that began in the third set tie break and went on until the beginning of the final set, where he couldn't buy a first serve. What was all that about?

-- Federer meanwhile, gave perhaps the best serving performance I think I might ever have seen from him. The aces, yes the aces, but how about the top service speed of 135mph. I may be wrong but I don't seem to remember him serving that fast, ever.

-- 33 and 38 UFEs probably sounds a little much from Roddick and Federer respectively. Until you're told that they hit 74 and 107 winners respectively. And then you begin to froth at the mouth and rip out your hair. And then you're led away in a straight jacket.

-- Serve and volley may not be in fashion, but coming to the net most certainly is: 69 and 59 net rushes from Roddick and Federer respectively. They won 61% and 64% of them.

-- When they got to 10-10 in the final set, it was like Roddick v El-Aynaoui all over again.

-- Brooklyn Decker = Mirka 2.0. Seriously. She's
that good for his tennis.

-- Can someone tell me who that bloke dressed in the dark suit seated next to Brooklyn Decker was? He celebrated a point by touching knuckles with Larry Stefanki and then attempted to do the same with her. She played her part, if only to appease him.

-- Federer played parts of the third and fourth sets utilising rope-a-dope tactics a'la Andy Murray. Hear that Murray? PARTS of the match.

-- When Pete Sampras wasn't present in the Royal Box at the beginning of the match, I had this weird image in my mind of him being detained by Customs for trying to enter the country with 'too many titles'.

-- A-Rod is now more 'big-four' than either one of del Potro or Novak. Can you please, please carry over this form into the hard court season Andy? I want to go through the bedlam of supporting you all over again.

-- To be honest. I can't decide between the two. It was that close. It's no secret I was supporting Roddick all the way. You only need glance at my 30+ messages of twitter-like commentary in the previous post to get an idea of the psychedelic hoola-hoops I was jumping through. If you must know I was experimenting with the idea of signing up for a twitter account. I'm still not convinced.

"Some 'excess baggage' troubles - but he made it"
(Photo: Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

-- Actually I can decide between the two. It was fitness. Never thought I'd hear myself saying that about Andy Roddick. But the simple truth is, R
F's economic style of play (one I criticised earlier on in the week), does wonders for his endurance and longevity out there. Dude was glowing, and racing up the changing room steps. Yeah I know, adrenalin and the sense of exhilaration does that for you, but still.

Roddick played the last game a step slower, with diminished reflexes and with his senses ablaze, adrift and flatlined all at the same time.

Though my heart goes out to him -- because like Dementieva a few days back, he may never get close to this much splendour ever again -- I am at the same time relieved and gladdened that he left it all out there on court today. Sweat, blood, guts, heart (probably still beating) and soul.

I would have probably switched off if he had let 'the aura' get to him once again. But not this time.

It was a good death.

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