Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Wimbledon: Parting Shots - The rest


» I hate talk of “guards” (and their replacement) almost as much as I do “goats” – and mostly for the reasons Tignor mentions here, which are that people are apt to use the phrase prematurely.

It’s certainly true that, were Rafa to win the FO and Wimbledon next year, and Novak to win, say, Aus again, and Federer (or someone else?) to win the USO, those who called for the changing of the guards would be forced to change them right back again (or at least to admit they were premature).

Even so, I think Tignor overstates his case a little in characterising Novak’s victory this weekend and ascent to world #1 as, “just a big win”

2 Slams, 4 Masters titles and only one loss out of a total of fifty matches played since November last year is (as I suspect Mr Tignor knows full well) a little more than “just a big win”.

And you know what? I wouldn’t be surprised if this does turn out to be the changing of the guards. It has to come at some point (duh!).

» The Wimbledon Mic disaster

For a tournament steeped in such history, prestige and, well, privilege, this was confoundingly bad and utterly unforgivable.

The point about a runner-up (whoever they might be) is that they’re usually hankering to get off court as soon as possible.

The very least you might do is to make the various formalities they must undergo as easy to endure and as smooth as possible.

Instead, most of the comments Rafa made to Sue Barker weren’t heard by anyone. When transmission did return, he (understandably irritable) cursorily thanked his team on a mic that was still so glitchy as to make most of what he said unintelligible.


» This may very well be the biggest crisis of Rafa’s very decorated career since his injury/parental-divorce-ridden 2009.

It may just be his post-loss state of mind but, nevertheless, I found this quote worrying:

"My experience says this level is not forever. Even for me when I was last year winning three Grand Slams, my level of last year is not forever. Probably the level of Novak of today is not forever."

Not “I must improve” but that “Novak won’t stay that way forever”. Confused smile

» Rafa a “cheater”, really? Get a grip.

I’ve obviously missed something.

Why is taking a MTO before a tie-break – not mid game, not on his opponent’s serve, not even on a changeover – but before a tie break (a natural cut off point) evidence of questionable moral fibre?

That’s what Rafa did against Delpo and it caused unchecked, unmitigated outrage on my timeline.

As it turned out, nothing much was wrong – but judging from the reaction you’d think some would prefer that there was – perhaps they’d also prefer him to play through injury, in case there really was a problem?

Drawing attention to his quite irritating idiosyncrasies is one thing. The perception hit he now regularly takes makes addressing it of vital importance.

Using them to malign his character in a desperate (and rather insecure) attempt at “bigging up” one’s own fave (especially when that fave is in no need of “bigging up”) is selling yourself very short indeed.

» As if to compound his perception problems even further there was a release-of-information gaffe on Monday when both Neil Harman and reported Rafa as having a “hairline fracture” that could have kept him out for “6 weeks”.

The report was killed by Uncle Toni less than 24 hours later who also confirmed that he was still on to play Montreal. Which is it?

» My own feeling is Rafa has very evident PR issues rather than “moral fibre” issues – and, needless to say, he needs to sort them out – specifically as it relates to the management, treatment and announcement of his injuries.

I’ve no time for those accusing him of cheating (its bigoted and unnecessary), but shit like this doesn’t help his cause. I also don’t think playing a Slam shot up full of anaesthetic is the best way to be going about things but that rant’s for another day.


» Whatever progress Pova may have made (and it’s difficult to deny progress has been made if you properly examine her results since IW), and however disciplined, resolute and hungry she undoubtedly remains, its hard not to feel that she’s often treading water just to keep her serve intact.

It may well define the rest of her career – when it breaks down the rest of her game is sure to follow. She knows it. We know it.

Despite all this, we should be very wary of dismissing her chances of winning a Slam altogether. She’s gotten this close twice in the past two months (one of which was on her worst surface): she only played one poor match at RG (SF), and it’s not difficult, I hope, to see Petra handing away her debut Wimbledon final amidst a flurry of UFEs?

The chips will, of course,  need to land the right way up, and if and when the win comes, it will have been in spite of, rather than because of her serve.

Still not quite the same thing as “never”

» Kimiko/Venus week one. Match of the tournament. Match of the year?

Like I said, required viewing for WTA girly-girls under the age of 25.

» After 11 months out, Serena (unsurprisingly) hit the ground running and only came undone by a monumental effort on the part of one of the flattest ball strikers in the sport.

Her fourth round exit will see her drop to #175 in the rankings. At least one top seed is due a very bad day at the office in round one of the USO.

» I’ve learnt to expect fluctuations from Venus Williams and it seems six months out hasn’t changed that

The good news is that she still had it in her to go toe-to-toe with Kimiko. The bad news is that she still hasn’t figured out Tsvetana.

» Seriously, I haven’t figured out Tsvetana either. Nobody has.

9 matches won out of the 22 events she played since Wimbledon last year. Just nine. Yet somehow that's enough to make the the semis of Wimbledon going through the world number three and Venus Williams (again and with the exact scoreline) back to back? Someone explain.

» <Insert threadbare pun about Slam-less world number ones here>

For what it’s worth, I still think Caro can win a Major, but like Pova (actually nothing like Pova) a lot of the chips would have to land the right way up. And the Law of Averages says it’s not nearly as inconceivable as is being suggested that they do land the right way up. At least once.

» Was rather hoping for an end to Fed’s 18-month Slam drought, and when Jo-Wilfried went and did what he did and in the way he did, it made me a little sad – we go back a long way, Fed and I.

And I still say he’s been quite unlucky  – every Slam loss dating back to the USO (and Delpo) in 2009 involves a big hitter playing lights-out tennis – with the type of depth and accuracy no one has an answer for. That, or its been Novak (2.0) or Rafa (on clay).

That’s not me being an apologist, it’s just plain fact.

»  I’m still not done blaming everyone and everything

In Murray’s own words, he’s “15-20% behind Rafa” and those other two. Which will make the win that much sweeter when it does come. Perhaps rather foolishly, I still choose to believe it will come.

» Marion

I only wish she hadn’t played that much tennis in week one :(

» Vika

Bad draws, injury, heat stroke, the return of the Williamses and, now, the emergence of Petra. There appear to be an awful lot of reasons why Vika shouldn’t win a Slam and the list is only going to get bigger.

» Don’t normally talk doubles but Jurgen and Iveta winning mixed is one of the highlights of the fortnight for me. Mainly because we got to see Iveta smile.

And pictures of Iveta smiling are, as we all know, collectors items.

» Sabine

Welcome back. And don’t disappear on me again.

» Jo-Wilfried

I can’t hate on you – especially seeing as you were able to win a set off Novak and took him to two breaks in the semis. But I still think you screwed Fed.

» BREAKING: Sam Stosur still can’t win a match on grass. 


» Aside: Alan Rickman would make a quite EXCELLENT umpire. And it’s not just the equally magnificent voice.

» Unnoticed and unsung: Dominika – 4th round or better at every Slam. Take a bow.

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