Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Rome: Govt. Health Warning - Serve-Volley may induce Identity Crises in certain players.

“Is this how Rafa sprawls his legs – can someone help me out here please?”

“I AM Rafa!”

“SHE ain’t Rafa!”

“I should be Rafa – I am NOT Justine people. Would never do that to you”

“Heinz keeps telling me I’m Rafa.”


“Even Rafa doesn’t think I’m Rafa.”

If anyone has further information on the events of the past week – please get in touch.

Here’s what seems to have happened.

-- Ana Ivanovic re-emerged on the scene rebranded as a more considered and confident force – but also bolstered by a Russian-Eastern-European Alliance intent on propping up her cause and assimilating her back in the game. One by one they folded either by design or through injury, poor form or sheer want of decorum . The Alliance had evidently not accounted for MJMS. No one had accounted for Nick Clegg either.

-- Whilst the world was still getting to grips with the idea that a Spanish serve-volleying lefty might actually have a shot at the title – Jelena and Serena put on an exhibition of their own.

Only not the one everyone was after.

-- There were some positives (JJs return to form up until that point was nothing short of inspiring), mitigating factors (Serena’s return from knee injury on her least effective surface after an outage of over three months) and even the tennis wasn’t wholly bad.

-- I just couldn’t stand it, that’s all. JJ played a shocker of a first set, Serena followed with two of her own, which, incidentally, it seemed as though JJ had only pulled through because she’d clung on to her sanity the way I’d barely managed to cling on to dear life itself.

I’m aware that certain twitterati out there thought of this in ‘epic’ terms. That word’s most readily bandied about in an effort at deceiving you into thinking that bloat somehow equates with substance.

An error-strewn mess that got so protracted it actually caused time to stand still – the way it sometimes does when you’re stuck in the tube – sardine-tinned in temperatures exceeding 30 degrees C , with only your warped sensory perception and neighbour’s nostril hair for company – I’ve been there.

So when this happened, it somehow seemed both weirdly apt and oddly satisfying.

For anyone currently domiciled on Pluto, the gist of the explanation proffered up by Serena to JJ at the net was: “…would never cheat you like that…don’t think I would do that…I’m not Justine”.

The “that” in question being this.

Oh Serena - let bygones be…present, alive and kicking thankyouverymuch.

-- Having been to hell and back, JJ might have hoped for an easier ride in the final. It was certainly shorter, and not nearly as hellish. Unless that is you consider drop shotting one’s opponents until their ears bleed viable on-court conduct.

Serve-Volley’s only half the story.

The thing about MJMS is she didn’t simply look to defeat her opponents. Most of the time she seemed to be having a party bear-baiting them, before tying them up in all sorts of knots they didn’t even know existed – her style of play doesn’t simply contrast that of most baseliners, it seems to grate.

I’ll have two please.

-- Time also for people to get off their very high horses over this little caper. Not what you would call her finest moment, though lest we forget – coz some folks clearly have – Gonzo was embroiled in a very similar scandal not two years ago. Don’t remember half as many dagger eyes being directed his way.

From what I can tell MJMS is not Gonzo. She’s also been kind enough to confirm that she too, “would never treat anyone like that”.

-- On a related note, how long before we get to see MJMS and Feli-Lopez play mixed doubles together? All sorts of lefty serve-volley mayhem waiting to happen.

-- On a completely unrelated note – coz silly me, that’s what I thought Americans were to red clay – what on earth are Sammy Querrey and Jonny Isner doing jazzing it up in Serbia? Further proof you should never let the haters stop you from doing your (very lofty) thang.

-- At the start of last week, I found myself wondering whether Federer entering Estoril was even a good idea. An early loss at a 250 event – not unlikely under the circumstances – could prove devastating coming so soon after Rome, and would seem to imply that a certain tipping point had been reached.

Has it?

A slap in the face to the Daveed Ferrers of this world, who were kept out of the top ten for all those years only for him to punk out against…Albert Montanes?

A respectable player in his own right, but hardly a Kolya or a Nole, whom Fed lost to in Doha and Basel recently, both also 250 events.

For now, I’m electing to keep schtum on the topic of thresholds and tipping points, unless and until I see that Slam semi-final streak go *snap*. That really would be a tipping point.

(Photos: AFP, Reuters, AP)

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