Well we're going to have to confront the post-Rafa world at Roland Garros at some point (Rafalites, I suggest you come out from behind the sofa, your man seems to be taking it on the chin), the fans, the press and the players too - to them in particular it must seem a little bit like that scene in The Matrix when Neo is finally freed from his bondage and given a glimpse of the 'real world' for the first time.
Let's make no bones about this. A lot of these guys are now going to be entertaining very realistic notions of going all the way and actually winning this thing - and I'm not just talking about Federer and Murray.
I don't want to harp on about the whole Nadal-Soderling prickliness, but this take from John Wertheim made interesting reading. I particularly liked the observation that going for broke might be the only viable strategy against Nadal on clay, though I'd still say that you need to be playing as well as Soderling was today or Kohlshreiber was yesterday for it to have any effect. Else you just end up with a ton of UFEs. And a fresh supply of bagels and breadsticks.
But there was something else in there that sort of took me by surprise. We all know Robin gets under Nadal's skin like no other chemical element on earth it would seem. And I thought I'd heard most of the post match publicity generated by the unsavoury incident at Wimbledon 2007, as well as Nadal's opinions on Soderling. I never came across this one though:
"...You don't really do what Soderling did, considering how good Nadal is. But Nadal, afterwards, basically said this guy will have to justify for this in the afterlife. He basically said this guy was doomed to hell, which is sort of a weird thing to say, but particularly for Nadal, who pretty much goes out of his way to say nice things about everyone..."
That's pretty heavy stuff coming from anyone. It almost sounds like you're dealing with the Antichrist. Which of course makes for a sinister tennis match.
Speaking of which there's definitely something unearthly about what we've seen these past few days. All in an other-worldly-conspiracy-theories kind of a way.
This from our 'Netherworld Correspondent':
-- Reports are coming in that Bjorn Borg is actually the 2nd coming of a Necromancer from the 12th century, attempting to lead a holier life and resisting the pull of the Dark Side, now forced into making reluctant use of his dark arts in a desperate bid to protect his record of 5 RG titles by instilling his young Swedish underling Robin, with special powers. It worked. After winning his match Robin stepped through a portal (craftily disguised as the entrance to the players' locker room) that transported him instantly to a dimly lit antechamber somewhere in the outskirts of Stockholm, where he was commended by his Master on his efforts thus far. He also received further instructions on how to conduct his presser which of course he was transported back in time to make.
-- The other theory revolved around Roger Federer and that spell he had away from tennis after losing the Aussie Open final - not resting his back or training in any special physical way, but engaged as an understudy to 'Bjorn the Necromancer'. He's put what little he was able to learn to good use by bringing about the suspiciously early exit of not one but two of his current nemeses. All before the 2nd week. I'd watch your back if I were you Andy Murray.
Rafalites feel free to skip this part.
That's good they've left. To all those remaining, I made up that junk about Borg and sorcery to help them get through this very difficult period. I'm not that pleased myself by his hasty departure but we've still got a week left at this Slam. And how crazily has this opened up the draw?
Well someone had to say it.
For the first time since 2007 it may not be ridiculous to suggest that Fernando Gonzales may make a Slam final.
Or that Andy Murray could win his first Slam on a surface he freely admits to being a shadow of himself on.
Or that Nikolay Davydenko could put right that blemish on his CV by finally making a Slam final.
Or that Roger Federer's dream of making a Career Grand Slam may not be as deluded as we once thought.
I'd better stop before I tempt fate. Or Robin Soderling.
Here's the thing though. The way I see it is Murray's got a tougher way through than Federer.
Federer practically owns everyone in his half of the draw, and aside from a heel thumping Jo-Willy smackdown I can't see anyone preventing him from making the final.
"Preparations are already under way for this year's trophy presentation ceremony"
Mind you with the Mad Hatter's Tea Party we've had this week, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Soderling-Robredo final.