Monday, 21 June 2010

Wimbledon: Fighting Falla with Fire


On the  day Portugal trounced poor old North Korea 7-0, it finally seemed some semblance of normality was being restored to Sport.


Since Germany missed that penalty and the seed massacre in the grass court tune ups, my rallying cry for Wimbledon had been ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.


The sh*t that went down in the Opening Match of Wimbledon on Centre Court wasn’t just “anything”. And it almost turned out to be everything.




For around two and a half sets Falla (pronounced ‘Fire’) was indeed on Fire.


I switched on just before the halfway mark and have a vague recollection of Fed running down balls he was never destined to reach and Falla, a man by all accounts possessed, stepping up early to nearly every ball, before winding up and ripping a winner any which way but loose.


We’ve seen a lot of that over this past year.


But from a journeyman in the first round of Wimbledon?


fed3_getty fed1_getty


Fed would spend most of the first two sets on the back foot and some of it on the floor.


When Falla went up two sets and a break, the mother of all upsets seemed all but inevitable – one that would eclipse even SoderPop’s RG win over Rafa last year.



There was a feeling that Fed came out playing “too defensively”, or as others would put it “playing clay court tennis”.


There might be some truth in that. I only know that when someone flattens out and drives through the ball fearlessly and deeply, rarely missing the lines, they drive the course of the match. Not the other way round.


It couldn’t last. Well actually it could. And if Falla had served it out at 5-4 up in the fourth it would have been a very different story. Instead he choked. I’m assuming it’s ok to use that word now.




When Federer did make an impression on the match, it was to be decisive. There was no looking back. No need, even, to “fight Falla with fire”, handing him, instead, a slightly anti-climactic final set bagel.




“I got very lucky today out there. I’ve lost many matches this year I should have won, this is one I should have lost but I came through. Sometimes that’s how grass court tennis works. Its a tough loss for him. It’s amazing for me because he played incredible.”

-- BBC




I’m still not completely sure what to make of this.


It could be taken to suggest that Fed is indeed vulnerable nowadays, as his recent results suggest – results that now encroach even upon the Slams.


It could also be exactly the kind of tune up he needed. The rudest of awakenings, only surpassed by him having gone out. That would, quite simply, have been ruder still.


I only know that I’m not counting Bozoljac out quite yet.


Anything can happen. And sometimes everything does.


(Photos: Getty)

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