Thursday, 2 June 2011

Roland Garros: A bull, a goat, a falcon and a (wounded) badger.


Rash, foolhardy and insolent maybe, but I do think Fed has a better chance against Novak than most give him credit for. You all know how I hate talk of “conditions”, “altitude” and the like – and I still do (mainly because its used, usually, to justify some preconceived narrative that may or may not have even a partial basis in reality).

But I really do think the faster Babolat balls – the cause of so much whinging from the players last week – are conducive to allowing Fed to play his naturally aggressive game. The only issue with that theory is they probably confer exactly the same advantage on Novak. Not so much of a game “changer” as a “leveller” then.

Another thing. I’m not normally one for fanning the flames of drama and hyperbole, but Novak referred to his SF opponent as “the most *successful* player of all time” (my emphasis) this week. No that’s not deliberate at all.

And its “party spoiler” Roger (his words) that now stands between him and the #1 spot – and, one assumes, world domination. The symmetry could be described as “poetic” if it wasn’t so loaded.

Fair to assume the gloves are coming off (assuming, that is, they were ever on).

As for the other SF, I’m banking on Rafa’s brief flurry of form against Sod (as if anyone thought he wouldn’t find his mojo for that match) to be just that. Wounded Badger has been popping pills since he rolled his ankle and has, somehow, been able, not simply to sustain a high level, but to produce career-defining form on his “worst surface”.

At some point, therefore, something’s gotta give; which is why we can’t have Raga swaggering around on Phillipe Chatrier as if he owns it – even if he does.

Wounded Badger’s been through all of the top three players in the world multiple times. Just never in a Slam final. But then he’s never been in the business of dictating points off his forehand either (Yeah, that almost never happens). Things change.

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