Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Flushing Meadows: "Shotmakers get sh*t done"

Shares in TomTom have hit the roof.

Unfortunately, having had such little faith in Juan-Marteen going into the final, I'm in no position to capitalise.

And it serves me right.

As people rush out to jump on the great Aston-Marteen bandwagon, and cash in their TomTom shares, I sit here all alone in Rick's Cafe in an eerie mist of stoicism.

Need he have announced himself so noisily at my expense?

Of all the Gin-Joints in all the Slams in all the world...he walks into mine.

I don't normally stick my neck out so decidedly. In fact to use Rick's own words "I stick my neck out for nobody".

But, I'm not ashamed to admit I was wrong.

He'll not put up "half as much resistance", were the words I think I used.

If this lot can stand it, I can...Play it!

How did I not see this one coming?

(Photo: AP)

Maybe it's because of Federer's double bagelling of him in Melbourne. Ok he stretched him to five in Paris, but that could quite reasonably have been thought of as an aberration, suggestive of future promise, but not likely to be something Federer would let happen again for a very long time.

Maybe it's because of the way I always thought of it as a question of matchups. Fed may have trouble with heavy topspin cutting viciously high into his backhand, but he copes with right handed flat shotmakers rather
too well.

Maybe it's the fact that while I've applauded the great strides Juan's made mentally this year, I didn't expect him to be able to sustain it over the course of five sets. Yeah that
must be it.

Something other than TomTom's share price has also gone through the roof:
My respect for Juan's mental strength. At the age of only 20, it's on another planet, and something I was only beginning to appreciate since Paris.

Not only did he manage to claw back set two after an opener in which, he was frankly lucky to only go down a single break.

But when he blew that early lead in the third (and with it the set), I thought we were back in that familiar territory of a promising young gun announcing himself on one of tennis's biggest stages -- having expunged himself of his last reserves of resistance -- now finding himself overwhelmed by experience and the enormity of the occasion.

We'd seen it too many times before. And with the way Juan appeared slumped in his seat having blown that third set, it appeared he recognised it too.

And then it happened.

He opened that fourth set looking spent. But instead of fading away he took what I think was a very conscious, and a very classy decision to go for broke, swing more freely and perhaps most critically
to keep those rallies short.

(Photo: Getty)

Whether it was a pacing mechanism or not, it worked it's wonders, and for a period of about 25 mins we were graced with some of the most stellar shotmaking of the past two weeks.

We perhaps shouldn't be that surprised. Shotmaker's have a reputation of pulling off the odd upset. Occasionally.

However they
also have the more dubious reputation of running out of gas, racking up the UFEs and going comprehensively braindead on us.

But when it's accompanied with the steel, and frankly very
wily, opportunistic play we saw from Juan yesterday, I've got no qualms in loudly proclaiming what in respectable circles ought to be looked upon, as a universal truth.

Shotmaker's get sh*t done.

That's so good it's almost worthy of a Jerry Maguire moment.

Shotmaker's get sh*t done.

Andy Murray's mantra for 2010, and a truth, that up until this week, appears to have been lost on me.


-- During the match I laughed off 2Hander's suggestion that this was Marat v Pete 2000 all over again. He's not the first person to make that observation. I'm still not completely sure about the parallel. But the flamboyance of last night makes it less easy to dismiss.

-- Federer's last set was a
mess, in what was otherwise a fairly competent match. I didn't like the double faults, the first serve percentage, or the scandalous breakpoint conversion rate either, but a lot of that was arguably down to the pressure being applied by Juan. Was it his best match? No, but neither is it significantly different to any of the letdowns suffered by many of the greats in the face of fresher and somewhat unabashed competition. Fear not. He's going nowhere.

-- Big four?
Hell yeah. In defeating Federer (his greatest higher ranking Nemesis) over five sets in the final of a Grand Slam -- the only guy outside Rafael Nadal to do that -- delpo has comfortably put paid to the few remaining objections I had to his big four entry. I place him within the bracket slightly above Djoko, but alongside Roddick and Murray. Murray has only the most tenuous grip of the entire group, with the arguably less polished Slam record.

And on a more controversial note, what of Dick Enbergs reaction to Juan's very low key request to say a few words in Spanish.

Were we really that pressed for time?

Could we not have extended a little courtesy to our 2009 US Open
Slam Champion?

His broken English ensured he took barely as much time as Federer's (very dignified) runner's up speech. Especially after the protracted Jada Parade we had after the ladies final the day before. It smacks of elitism (and another word I won't use) even if that wasn't the
look you were pitching for.
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