Tuesday, 1 December 2009

WTF: Wrap Up, Vol. 2

I left a lot unsaid in my last post, mainly because I didn’t want to miss out on perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at giving Davy the attention and recognition he deserves.

But this has been the best TMC, sorry WTF, I remember seeing for years, notable not only for the new fangled facilities, but also for the high quality of play and only a single injury timeout administered to Nadal’s back.

Seven other players were responsible for that.

Juan Martin del Potro

In my WTF Preview I gave Juan Marteen little more than a broken wing and a prayer that looked like it might have been composed and delivered by the very devil himself.

I was wrong; and it’s not the first time this year either.

image (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Juan’s maturity and mental fortitude are off the charts in a way that might return to bite me time after time. At least until I make a more concerted effort to stop misjudging him so.

After his shadowy opener against Murray, remembered more for his nasal emissions than anything that happened on court, Juan-Marteen lifted his game in a way which has become something of a hallmark of his year.

During his semi final against Soderling, which was perhaps the tightest (as well as the punchiest) match of the week, I actually felt Robin was more reliant on his big-serving than those titanic groundies of his, which for the first two sets, had the feel of a minor skirmish at a Greenpeace Rally, rather than the front line of that proverbial riot.

Only in that final set (where amongst other things, Soderling somewhat bizarrely began to read Delpo’s serve better than anyone else this week), did Robin reacquire that depth and pace to his shots once again, and suddenly it felt like the bar-room brawl from hell so many of Sir Robin’s fans had paid good money to see.

Somewhat ironic then, that he went on to lose the match? Not in my book.

Juan did an excellent job of pacing himself and standing tall in the face of the biggest and most monolithic barrage of serving we had all week, and raised his game at just the right moment. As far as I’m concerned the better player won, even though you all know how heavily I was rooting for Sir Robin.

Pacing appears to be arguably one of Juan’s biggest weapons this season. He can go through an event looking fatigued, disinterested even, but then recognise the need to bring out his best at the moments when it matters most – quite the antithesis of Dasco.

And he saves his best right now, for the very best, in particular one Roger Federer.

If I have but one criticism of such a strategy, it’s that tennis is a constantly evolving sport, and though this approach has worked it’s wonders at the highest levels this year, next year represents a different prospect; one which might benefit from spreading oneself more evenly.

Arise, Sir Robin ‘Rants-a-lot’ Soderling

Despite the eleventh hour switching of my loyalties in favour of Davy, know that I still suffer agonies over Robin.

Delpo was the better player, but it wasn’t inconceivable for Sir Robin to make the finals; and I’m not sure which way my wavering support would have gone had he achieved that.

Before I go on though, I’d better credit Novak Djokovic for his knighting of ‘Sir’ Robin. He came up with the name after playing his last match in the group stages, when told how he was reliant on Big Rob defeating Kolya, to remain in the event.

Alas, it was never meant to be.


(Image Credit: Marria Khan)

Sir Robin fought valiantly under the banner of inelegance and in the cause of unfettered delinquency with all his might, but struck his last blow under a barrage of Argentinian fly-swatters.

So arise Sir Robin, and return to your Swedish Kingdom not in disgrace but as one anointed.

Safe in the knowledge that no one, but no one disturbs the peace quite like you do.


Or something.

Yes, I know there’s nothing idyllic, mythic or remotely Camelot-like about Big Rob dressed as a Centurion, but it’s the most thematically appropriate picture I could find.

I had some concerns about his form coming into this, mostly because of that state of stupor we left him in at Paris.

That he came through against Nadal as easily as he did, didn’t completely banish my fears. The fact that Nadal was out of sorts was more than just common knowledge, and Robin saw him off seemingly without having to change gears.

However after Djoko’s demolition, and with him being the first to make the semis, it was quite clear that Big Rob had arrived.

I could list a bunch of reasons why I celebrate what he’s achieved this year, or why I appreciate his presence at the top of the game so very much.

It mostly all boils down to the fact that no one in the top ten plays quite like him, and the introduction of a force as potent as his can push the game to heights it might not otherwise see.

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