Sunday, May 18, 2008

Red With Their Blood

I was all set to write a play-by-play of this match. But you can read that somewhere else.

Instead, I'll just say this: that was a spectacular, extraordinary final between two tennis geniuses who did what geniuses do. Both warriors fought, attacked, absorbed, counterpunched, dragged themselves back up when they looked like they were going down, and laid it all out. Masterful performances from both.

This was tennis. Sportsmanship. Valor. Respect. Completion.

The dirt is red with their blood.

Congratulations to both geniuses but in particular to Rafael Nadal who won his first Hamburg title with an exquisitely angled backhand passing shot that dropped defending champion Roger Federer's chin to his sternum in defeat for the first time in a Hamburg final.

Given the crowd's polite response to Rafa during the trophy presentation, I'll also suggest that this victory was about more than just tennis.


Beth said...

This match was beautiful and a joy to watch. I was very surprised to see Rafa have THAT much left after his match with Djokovic yesterday. Just goes to show what a superb athlete and champion he is. He is so deserving of this win. Vamos Rafa!!

Sally said...

What a great fightback from Rafa! I hope he wins another title at Roland Garros this year.

BeefingFraeulein said...

If you missed some Hamburg matches, usually someone is kind enough to post them on YouTube. (You've just got to catch the matches before the greedy whoever
has them taken down).

Cate said...

I agree.... THIS is tennis.


rabbit said...

To repeat some of Roger's words, it's a pity that he can never take advantages he himself creates against Rafa. It's as if he is afraid to leap through the gap he opens.

And Rafa twists the knife further when he compliments Roger lavishly after beating him.

Craig Hickman said...

That last sentence is stretch, rabbit. Would you rather Rafa didn't give his opponent any credit?

Or are you suggesting Rafa is the sadist in this relationship much as I think Raja is the sadist in his relationship to Andy?

If that's the case, it's not a stretch at all.

Mark said...

Great post and great blog! Just found it and added it to my list. Am still enjoying today's match, an absolute classic. You may enjoy my blog at I mostly write about tennis, hopefully you'll check it out and let me know what you think.

rabbit said...

Craig, I guess I meant something like your last meaning, though hopefully not to that extent ;) Anyway, it's so utterly frustrating to watch Roger play so well and get such huge leads in sets and then just blow his advantage away by spraying errors all over the place. Of course, lots of credit to Rafa for pouncing upon Roger's hesitative moves and asserting his own game. But again, it is just so incredibly frustrating to watch Roger fall apart like this in consecutive meetings.

And after that, when Rafa heaps praise on Roger, even if he means it sincerely, the praise smarts a lot. It feels a sort of tease from Rafa that even a great player like Roger can't keep up with him. I don't know if Rafa means it that way (probably not), but from my perspective, it does hurt like a twist of the knife.

Cate said...

Then praising one another after a great match just goes to show much RESPECT they have for one another. There was no venom in Rafa's words or will Roger have in his if he wins.

It's always different between them.

Craig Hickman said...

Gotcha, rabbit. We do take this personally, don't we? Sometimes I feel like I'm out there instead of my faves.

I completely understand your frustration, but I'm always going to see praise as a positive and not a twist of the knife.

Savannah said...

I have no doubt that they are rivals and that all the drama that goes with that exists between them. What makes a difference is that they are both able to show respect to each other, and ultimately to their sport, in their public interactions. That is what makes them unique.

oddman said...

Your last sentence is confusing to me, Craig. What are you suggesting? Dang, I hate it when I can't see a match - one misses so much of the drama.
Anyway, glad for Rafa to keep his boot on Roger's neck, on the clay at least. One more to go, young Spanish bull!

andrew said...

Did I watch a totally different match? What I saw was Fed failing, again, to rise to the occasion. He couldn't maintain it the flair and free-flowing tennis he played for the first 6 games of the first set. Instead, he got tentative: he didn't attack Nadal's second serve; he didn't hit good approach shots when he came in; he didn't get his first serve in; and he REALLY needs to re-tool his backhand, which gets shorter, and shorter, and shorter, so that sometimes it doesn't even get to thet-line, whereupon Nadal wades in, takes advantage, and hits a winner. Didn't anybody else see this?