Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Faces Of The Day

Julien Benneteau of France reacts after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland in the Paris Masters tennis tournament November 11, 2009.
Reuters


Julien Benneteau of France reacts after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland in the Paris Masters tennis tournament November 11, 2009.

::

Another day, another outstanding performance by a native son.

First time I saw Julien Benneteau strike a ball was back in 2004. He was beating the crap out of eventual runner-up Guillermo Coria in the third set of their round of 16 at Miami. He had all the shots and was using them viciously.

And then he choked.

Since then he hasn't done anything significant except upset a top player at this or that event. But he's got the weaponry and if he's inspired, he's more than dangerous.

Today was Roger Federer's turn to feel the sting of the French underachiever. And the world No. 1 didn't play poorly. He seemed a bit shell shocked with a tendency toward tentative, but he wasn't flailing like he does when's he's completely disinterested or befuddled.

He wanted to win this match.

But Bennetau let the crowd lift him over the finish line, just as his compatriot the day before. He served brilliantly, retrieved like a backboard, and outsmarted Raja when it mattered most. He wept after victory. Sat down in his chair, cradled his face in his hands.

And wept.

::

I'm still trying to decide if the all-Spanish affair that took more than three hours to complete was the worst match I've seen on the ATP in 2009.

Rafal Nadal played like an amateur. Nicolas Almagro choked like a headcase:

Five. Match. Points.

I don't think I've seen anything like it.

::


Marat Safin of Russia reacts during his match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in the Paris Masters tennis tournament November 11, 2009.
Reuters

Marat Safin of Russia reacts during his match against Juan Martín Del Potro of Argentina in the Paris Masters tennis tournament November 11, 2009.

::

The Mercurial One bid tennis farewell. The newly crowned US Open champion ended his idol's career.

Poetry.

::

Singles - Second Round
J Benneteau (FRA) d [1] R Federer (SUI) 36 76(4) 64
[2] R Nadal (ESP) d N Almagro (ESP) 36 76(2) 75 - Saved 5 M.P.
[3] N Djokovic (SRB) d J Monaco (ARG) 63 75
[4] A Murray (GBR) d J Blake (USA) 62 67(3) 76(4)
[5] J Del Potro (ARG) d [WC] M Safin (RUS) 64 57 64
[9] R Soderling (SWE) d I Karlovic (CRO) 64 76(6)
[10] F Gonzalez (CHI) d J Isner (USA) 75 76(3)
[12] M Cilic (CRO) d [Q] L Kubot (POL) 67(3) 64 62
[13] R Stepanek (CZE) d V Troicki (SRB) 64 60
[14] T Robredo (ESP) d T Berdych (CZE) 64 64
[15] G Monfils (FRA) d [Q] D Guez (FRA) 64 75
[Q] A Clement (FRA) d [16] T Haas (GER) 57 63 76(8) - Saved 1 M.P.

Doubles - Second Round
S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) d [3] M Bhupathi (IND) / M Knowles (BAH) 64 67(6) 10-7
[8] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) d B Soares (BRA) / K Ullyett (ZIM) 63 64
J Kerr (AUS) / T Parrott (USA) d [4] L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) 67(5) 64 10-5
M Granollers (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) d [5] W Moodie (RSA) / D Norman (BEL) 64 75
[7] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) d J Brunstrom (SWE) / J Rojer (AHO) 64 76(5)

47 comments:

Helen W said...

I read somewhere that Benneteau has never won a title. I hope this win helps make up for that. I was so moved to see how much it meant to him.

Craig Hickman said...

You'd have thought he'd just won a Slam.

Karen said...

Julien has been playing well lately and I guess it had to take a very partisan crowd to lift him over the finish line. Pity the French cannot do it to their players where it matters most. They did it yesterday with Simon and today with Benneteau. Oh well. You cannot win them all. Benneteau has never won a title. Good grief. And yes Craig, that match with Nadal today is on the shortlist of the worst matches of the year. Nadal's fans state that he looked as if he did not wish to be there. I guess Almagro made sure he was going to play on in Bercy whether he wanted to or not.

Graf_sampras said...

First -- on SAFIN.


as Craighickman put succinctly and appropriately:


"POETRY" in the way Safin bowed out (until the crazy guy changes his mind...though doubtful)

defeated in 3 presumably well-enough-played sets by the New USO Champ Juan Martin del Potro..

imagine:

JM del Potro -at least to me over the few years of JM's appearance - really has something of what Marat Safin had - and promised to produce over the years...

the giant, mobile, versatile player that can have both great power and touch .

JM also won - nearly 10 years after safin won his , at about the same ages..20,19 respectively.

both defeated players well-discussed for their being the dominant players of their era ..who were also 10 or so years apart in age..sampras and federer, respectively.

Safin and del Potro are themselves nearly 10 years apart in age.

they meet in the LAST official match of Marat Safin in his career...in the LAST general open participation tournament of the year..


as Craighickman said:


POETRY.

it is Fitting That marat bows out this way.


BE HAPPY MARAT. THANKS for all the wonderful , crazy, exasperating, but ALWAYS exciting years of your presence!

now - since marat said:

his next life will be "something where I make some money, of course"...

how about doing some James Bond movies?

or shall we say:

"THE MAN FROM RUSSIA?"

guaranteed to sell tickets - to at least HALF the human moviegoing population. that's for sure...

and remember - the woman in the movie always has to be just like marat likes it:

"where....where she gets angry...u know...she throws things around, ...plates, spoons, cups...it makes me want her even more".....


hehe


hehehe.

Mad Professah said...

Almagro didn't look THAT tentative on all those match points--I just saw it on tennis channel replay. Nadal just ddn;t make any mistakes on those points, though he probably should have lost at least two of those 5 points,

Graf_sampras said...

by the way - that position of benneteau..is similar to one he made towards Roger inside a match in dubai a few years ago. i saw it online streaming...

and roger hit a good shot - and benneteau who was playing quite well also -- bowed to roger , again and again, and then knelt on the floor...and eventually lost the match.

kinda like - it was roger's "home away from home" dubai being his favorite practice spot...
a

and maybe a few years later benneteau realizes if he is to win - he should bow only in the end . to himself and not Lord Roger of Dubai --

Graf_sampras said...

benneteau actually reminds me in his game of cedric pioline , although pioline was more overtly a serve and volleying player.

but benneteau has a similar type of very frenchie "variety".

maybe it's his turn to have breakthrough and win a title too.

Craig Hickman said...

G_S, you spelled out exactly what I meant with that one word.

Thanks.

Beth said...

What a wonderful win for Benneteau. Just fantastic to hear of his passion and fight.

Whole Sight said...

Craig said: "And the world No. 1 didn't play poorly. He seemed a bit shell shocked with a tendency toward tentative, but he wasn't flailing like he does when's he's completely disinterested or befuddled."

I completely disagree. I caught the match on streaming video & was disturbed at Federer’s play from the start. I couldn’t understand why the announcers (the cliche-spewing Robbie Koenig in particular) didn’t catch what I was seeing: the lack of spirit & spring, the pointless long cross-court backhand rallies which usually ended in a Federer error, the mediocre placement of first serves, the inability to deliver down the line winners on either side. Ever since the U.S. Open, Federer has taken the ball early as usual but with much less purpose. He once said he thinks about tennis strategy as a matter of “taking the right decisions.” Well, at the moment he seems rudderless – a man incapable of taking or executing effective decisions.

As well as Benneteau began playing in the second set, a sharp Federer would have crushed him so totally that Benneteau would never have gained confidence.

Something is missing in Fed's head; I have no idea what it is. And Fed himself may have no idea - just as with cuckolded spouses, the player is often the last to know.

Karen said...

WholeSight, as a Fed fan it may be motivation as well as the fact that he has not had good results in Bercy and does not seem too enthused about playing there. However, it could well be that Benneteau played out of his mind, something that he does not seem to have the capacity to do today, seeing as how it looks to be a straight set defeat today to Monfils. Ah well.

Graf_sampras said...

Craig Hickman said...

G_S, you spelled out exactly what I meant with that one word.

Thanks.

Thu Nov 12, 07:22:00 AM

==================


it's the one word that defines it all. POETRY.

even the idea of Safin's retiring, and making a battle of it in the last, somehow represents something of his career:

"GREAT PROMISE -- that withered in the end". something of that sort.

but now - he should, really, seriously, get into MOVIES! have some of those colorful, romantic,Russian characters straight out of their incredibly rich treasure trove of literature..such as by Tolstoy...Pushkin..etc...and modernize them...or something..

where safin can display his tantrums! or his "internal disorders"...hehe

Graf_sampras said...

some KUDOS - well deserved for STEPANEK - the "old man of tennis" today..giving a little lesson to the "best player" in the world according to some...

Graf_sampras said...

he really PUNKED - the punk murray. and taught him a little "streetwise" tennis.

lol.

Karen said...

Talking about guys choking against Federer, these guys are laying down, taking their cojones out and stuffing it down their own throats. Unbelievable. Almagro, 5 match points, Robredo serves for the match and neither of these 2 could find a first serve or a forehand. Unfreakingbelievable. Talk about a weak era. This is your weak era.

Helen W said...

The difference is that these guys are not in the top 5 -- 10 players. When people talk about Roger playing in a weak era, they are talking about the top 5 -- 10players, no?

Karen said...

@HelenW, yes I am talking about these players, whether ranked 5-10 or whatever they are ranked. Robredo was once ranked in the top 5 in my memory serves me correctly. I know that Nadal is the better player and so is Federer, but to my mind what I am witnessing here is just too much. How can a player have had 5 match points and been unable to convert and today, look at how Nadal lost his serve. By serving a double fault so long that you could tell that his whole rhythm was off. What did Robredo do? He goes up to serve and not only can he not find a first serve, he starts playing Nadal's game. All match he has been aggressive, taking the net away, coming in and pounding his ground strokes. Serving for the set, he cannot find a first serve and every forehand goes into the net or wide. I dont believe Nadal hit one winner to break Robredo. Not 1. He just hung in there and waited for the choking to commence. Dont think I am trying to take anything away from Nadal as he deserved his victory, but these guys need to either stop playing or put up. Enough. Someone said that the time these coaches keep drilling forehands and backhands they need to start working on the players' psyche and that is so true

Helen W said...

Karen I agree with you that Robredo fell apart mentally when serving for the match -- suddenly he couldn't find a first serve, after having served really well all match long. And I believe he was ranked as high as No 6 (in 2006?). Rafa himself is clearly lacking confidence after his injury-ridden break from the game -- I keep hoping to see the old Rafa but who knows? To me it is amazing how he still is so mentally strong, even when his game is nowhere near his old best.

But has it not been ever thus? Tennis is such a mental game, doubtless (at least in part) because it is such an individual game -- there are no teammates out there to hide behind.

oddman said...

Not only that, but he's just had to beat his 'teammates' in the last two matches. Rafa has said before it's always more difficult playing his Spanish friends - and you can see the camradarie they have when Davis Cup rolls around. He's like their junior boy, the one they bug and tease and send on errands. :)

oddman said...

Who's he got next? Tsonga? Jo-willie will eat him like an especially tasty eclair if Rafa doesn't find his aggressivity soon, no?

Karen said...

Oddman, I am not too sure about JoWilly coming through in that match as even though he played Simon tough yesterday, Simon was on one leg. Is he motivated to try and get to WTF? Who knows. Does he have motivation to try and defend his first MS shield? God only knows. All I know is there is something that Federer and Nadal have and the others just do not seem to have it. Whether it is being mentally tough or just knowing that at the end of the day you will end up winning - what is that word I am looking for - belief. I recall when Serena was playing Petrova in the AO07 one of the commentators said thus "belief, belief, belief". How many times have we seen championns pull victory from the jaws of defeat. We have seen it in 2 days by Nadal. Let us hope we get to see it 3 days in a row.

Helen W said...

Who knows, Karen -- so many of them seem tired and/or injured. I just watched some of the DelPo - Gonzo match -- both of them were clearly hurting, and when DelPo finally won the tie breaker to take it to a 3rd set, Gonzo retired. It was hard to watch them both clearly suffering out there.

They just have to shorten the season.

Graf_sampras said...

Karen said...

Talking about guys choking against Federer, these guys are laying down, taking their cojones out and stuffing it down their own throats. Unbelievable. Almagro, 5 match points, Robredo serves for the match and neither of these 2 could find a first serve or a forehand. Unfreakingbelievable. Talk about a weak era. This is your weak era.

Thu Nov 12, 04:11:00 PM

=============

Karen - afew of these are the SAME PLAYERS that were once top 10 that CHOKED against roger, repeatedly.

robredo is one of these.

how many times did Roddick choke against roger? let's start in wimbledon raindelay 2004...""andy was KILLING ME....it was lucky the rain delay helped me to think"(roger federer).

have you heard of TOP TENNERS - davydenko - 3 times in the US open , always leading in every set...

GONZO , BAGHDATIS, in AO finals.

DJOKOVIC newbie, MURRAY newbie in USO finals?

just those four - how many MAJORS? 4 already..all of them won against CHOKERS.

you are going to say the 'weak era' starts "NOW?" because you see choking against each other among these players?.


do you know how Benneteau looked like in BOWING to federer in dubai a few years ago? i thought it they were just fooling around for entertainment...

how many times has Richard Gasquet CHOKED against roger? "I do not want to meet roger"...(wimbledon)

how many times has SOEDERLING choked? LJUBICIC when HE called HIMSELF "i am the best player in the world , behind roger federer" (2004)?

you're kidding right?


but an australian newspaper in 2005 said THIS - no kidding:


"THE PLAYERS that came WITH ROGER FEDERER...are so respectful to the point of being DEFERENTIAL".

oh - ya - roger, according to RECORDS is now the "greatest player in history"...

coz he got two extra majors this year and "completed the career slam"


eXCEPT THAT EVERYONE KNOWS HOW that happened....


the guy that OWNS HIM morning day and night, on ALL surfaces was injured and couldn't play properly.

Karen said...

@HelenW, yes, I agree that Delpo/Gonzo match was painful to watch and clearly Gonzo felt that he could do no more.
@GS - I have always known that a lot of the players who are currently playing are mentally weak. However, them being mentally weak should not take away from the accomplishments of either Federer or Nadal. What it says is that these guys are willing to take what they want, put in the necessary work and remain focused even when their games are going down the tubes. The problem I have is that they dont seem to care too much. Once they lose a match they go to the net and hug their opponent. WTF. I am hugging you after you just ripped me a new one because I am mentally incapable of winning a match against you. This is what separates those who want it and those you dont. When guys like Nadal or Federer lose they are pissed that they lose. They dont give a damn about their opponent, they are out there trying to win a tennis match. These guys they lose and they are embracing at the net. Come on now. Enough.

Karen said...

@GS, all those examples that you have given makes the point that I have been making. The fact that these guys are chokers who cannot make use of their opportunities should not in any way diminish what Federer or Nadal have achieved. I am sure that if I am minded I can go back and look at the h2h of both Graf and Sampras. Were the players against whom they won their titles choke artists? No. I think the champions are just that little bit better than everyone else. Nothing more, nothing less. The same is true on the women's side. How many times have we seen great players snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It is just that they want it more. End of story.

Graf_sampras said...

Thu Nov 12, 09:02:00 PM

Karen said...
@GS, all those examples that you have given makes the point that I have been making. The fact that these guys are chokers who cannot make use of their opportunities should not in any way diminish what Federer or Nadal have achieved. I am sure that if I am minded I can go back and look at the h2h of both Graf and Sampras. Were the players against whom they won their titles choke artists? No. I think the champions are just that little bit better than everyone else. Nothing more, nothing less. The same is true on the women's side. How many times have we seen great players snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It is just that they want it more. End of story.

Thu Nov 12, 09:05:00 PM


========


Karen ,if you read some of your own remarks elsewhere (not space to quote here, u would know yourelf) you might realize that you are casting about for a reason to say that "end of story" , roger federer has won plenty of titles as he has DUE to "being a great champion that victory from defeat" - also due to (like other greats) - simply "wanting it more".

the story does not end there., nor is the ONLY one.

I will give examples:

Sampras had a number of times "snatched victory from defeat" DUE to an opponent CHOKING..or making silly mistakes and quite openly would state "whew! I just squeaked that one out"..on the other hand opponents ALSO snatched victory FROM defeat FROM sampras due to HIS choking: "did i ever choke in my career. of course i did. plenty..I just managed to hide it better than perhaps most..what it is, is: you get nervous in critical moments and you make mistakes...it's really normal..yeah...i choked plenty".

in other words, karen, players CHOKE, no matter who they are .


BUT THERE HAS BEEN NO "great player" i have EVER followed closely - SINCE 1970 - that has won so many titles on the basis of having opponents that were CLEARLY his equals in matches who CHOKED repeatedly or so OFTEN or SO MANY of them -- as roger federer.

novotna "choked" - by all accounts against graf in wimbledon - even if NOVOTNA HERSELF - to this very day - INSISTS "no - i did not choke..steffi simply hit a shot that was incredible she won it".

and yet, surely not only she but others had choked matches to graf or others, as graf herself surely had her own share of losing matches that way regardless of how great she was..same with sampras..same with mcenroe. same with djokovic, nadal, roger HIMSELF, roddick, safin, etc...


but the STICKLER HERE - karen -

of ALL the great names in history NONE has garnered so much titles or matches critical based on opponents - PLENTY of them - that choked, and choked, and choked...as much as Roger federer has.

yes - we don't want ever to "take away" from each player's titles. they did earn thtat simply by being there and playing . they did their part.

but PART of the story is the HOW of particular matches..whether an opponent LOST because HE choked - yet again , as MANY MANY opponents of roger do - and then later on prove they DO have the game to beat him, after all, as benneteau just proved - or whether the winner, in this case, roger won purely on account of his divine greatness.

here's another example:

one story Richard Krajicek, known as "not afraid of pete sampras" - told abotu his wimbledon win over pete was this:

"he was really tough all day - but SUDDENLY , in the middle of the match , i FELT he lost intensity - and I saw my chance and took it".

HOW MANY times have guys like soderling, davydenko, baghdatis, USO finals djokovic/murray, robredo, etc. etc. etc.

actually had roger ON THE BACKFOOT - which is PLENTY more "moments of loss of intensity" than sampras EVER showed against his opponents -

AND YET THESE PLAYERS REPEATEDLY LOST? DESPITE the great leads?

that kind of thing - a richard krajicek, a goran ivanisevic, a becker, a kafelnikov, simply WILL NOT PERMIT!

Graf_sampras said...

but i also have a single question that basically answers the "roger gets beaten only if he is a bit off"...and that he wins NOT because opponents choked but simply by the force of his divine greatness...

ROME, MONTE CARLO - are about the most prestigious clay court events behind the FO today - and previous decades were actually on a par with the FO for the quality of surface and players entering.

every year - roger has entered them - he never won them especially since he was the "shoe-in" - since his dominance - BUT for a certain player.

did roger's yearly appearance DISPROVE that roger "wants the match and title LESS" than NADAL?.

but then:

Nadal gets injured, burns out - fails to play or even practice properly according to his usual standards - fails to get past the semis in FO - soderling - the one of the HABITUAL clowns bowing before roger federer since 2003 - is finalist and VOILA ...


where the player that gave roger federer a double bagel in the FO 2008 - and improved to WIN wimbledon -

gets injured and out of sorts (need we mention his parents' divorce?) -

and ROGER WINS both wimbledon and FO.


that , karen , sums up Roger's "great career" - when you look at the "elephant in the room" and see that it is not a phantom . but something VERY VERY REAL.

Graf_sampras said...

PARIS is now down to:

DJOKO/SODERLING
TSONGA/NADAL
CILIC/MONFILS
DEL POTRO/STEPANEK


who gets to SEMIS?.

Graf_sampras said...

Nationalities for quarters:


SERBIAN, CROAT, 2 FRENCH, SPANIARD, ARGENTINIAN, CZECH

on an indoor court.

Karen said...

Yes, but Graf, it goes back to the same thing. Roger wants it more. He needs to win. He hates to lose. He wants and needs those titles. The acclaim. He reads his own press. This is a man who for him losing a tennis match is akin to losing a leg. He hates it. This is what separates him from everyone else on the Tour. When Nadal was beating him every which way but Sunday, was he afraid to face him. No. He went out, got himself coaches, tried different tactics. They may not have worked, but at least he did not give up. He wanted a French Open title because he was building his legacy. As I have repeatedly said, anything that Roger accomplishes from here on out is gravy to me. He won what people said he could not win. The French Open. I dont care if he had to play a one armed man on stilts or a player ranked 1000 in the world. He did it. No one can take it away from him. Nadal got beat and was not there on the final Sunday. He was injured and he was not at Wimbledon, so Roger ended up doing the Channel Slam. Something only 3 players in the world have done. I am not taking it away from him and no one can. There is no asterisk there. He did it. Nadal is basically ruining his career trying to achieve what Federer has achieved. He has injures to every part of his body and his confidence is shot. Whether Federer was playing against choke artists or not. It takes a certain type of individual to want something so bad that they are willing to work very hard for it. No amount of choke artists across the net from you can take that away. I am surprised that you are putting Benneteau up there as a player who fought to the last. He got lucky. Pure and simple. Yes, he played well, but he got lucky. Look what happened to him in the very next round. I am sure that Monfils was especially glad that Benneteau took out Roger, seeing as how he states that Roger's game is a pain in the ass.

Craig Hickman said...

Karen, there is now and will always be an asterisk there. Sorry, mate. But that's how these things work. Those who document tennis history won't bury that truth. And while we can't take any titles away from Federer, he played a first-time Roland Garros finalist in order to complete the career Grand Slam.

Lucky.

"Nadal is basically ruining his career trying to achieve what Federer has achieved."

This feels like a stretch. How can you know? For years, people said his style of play would guarantee him a short championship career. Now that that seems as though it is coming to pass, his injuries are chalked up to trying to achieve what Federer has achieved?

I don't follow.

::

Bennetteau got inspired. I'll say he got lucky if he ever figures out a way to win a title. Any title.

Karen said...

LOL on the Benneteau thing. Cannot believe he has been playing that long and never won a title. Unbelievable.
I dont see how you can put an asterisk against 15 majors. How is it his fault that his main opponent was not there on final Sunday. If that is the case then we have to put an asterisk against Roddick's major as people are of the view that his opponent got unfair scheduling. At the end of the day these guys all have to go out there and play the match. For my money, no asterisks. Everyone won their match fair and square.
As to Nadal's various injuries, he has been attempting to play a very hard schedule to attain the No. 1 spot, that as well as his style of play has contributed to his injuries unfortunately. Nadal has set the same goals for himself that many players have set. Attaining the No. 1 ranking in the world. It is not an easy task. There is the task of getting there, and then there is the task of holding on to it. It is not easy, but some here would like to think that the reason why Federer has done it time and again is because he is playing against mental midgets and not giving credit that it took a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve what he has achieved. No asterisks here. None.

Karen said...

In addition, if because of Nadal's injuries Roger got the French and Wimbledon, then because of a back injury Nadal got the AO and Novak won the AO and Maria beat Serena at Wimbledon because of a knee injury. We can sit here all day and do this. A win is a win. History is usually written by those who are left behind. What people will remember is that Federer got the career slam. It will perhaps not even record who he beat, just that he got it.

Christopher Crocker said...

Andy Murray's Queen's Title - we must also put an asterix next to this one ...

It is absurd to think that this is the proper way to record tennis history. Anyone who sees an asterix to such results as another player is injured or underperforming is simply distracted by some errant floater pulling their gaze from what's really in front of their eyes, obscuring their view of reality.

Craig Hickman said...

Fedfans,

Breathe.

Please.

Karen, I didn't say I would put an asterisk next to Raja's 15 Slam titles. Where do you get that from? I said that his Roland Garros victory will always been seen as the one he could only get when Rafa was injured and therefore couldn't make the final. Is that Raja's fault? Or course not. But it's reality. And the "Channel Double" was earned also without playing Rafa who couldn't defend his title. Not Raja's fault, but he's lucky that way.

Rafa won his Channel Double by defeating Raja in both finals.

Christopher Crocker, what exactly in the above is outside the realm of reality?

I could simply say "Federer is the best player of this generation" and all of his fans would agree. But there are many facets and twists and turns to a story that begins (or ends) that way

Christopher Crocker said...

What's absurd, and an obscured view of reality is that the events that could have happened will somehow supercede the history of what did happen - in an atheletic competition. As for the whole best player of a generation, greatest of all time, etc. In my mind such labels are the result of a lame attempt to quantify the unquantifiable. Were it so easy to draw the thick black lines, I probably wouldn't enjoy following tennis.

Helen W said...

Wow! Rafa is straights! Who woulda thunk it, after the way he has been playing so far in the tournament?

Let's hope he's really back now!

Vamos rafa!

Helen W said...

Karen says:

In addition, if because of Nadal's injuries Roger got the French and Wimbledon, then because of a back injury Nadal got the AO ....

Huh? Nadal fans were well aware that Rafa was not playing at his best this year starting in Miami, and continuing through the clay season.

One of the big differences I see between Rafa's injuries and those that Federer supposedly had (e.g. his back injury and his mono) is that in Rafa's case it was apparent to those watching him that he was, for whatever reason, not in form before there was any talk of injury, whereas with Federer, he seemed just fine until he lost.

IAC, to attribute Federer's losing the AO to his back injury is, to my mind, completely bogus. Even Federer made no such claim.

BTW, is his having had mono just another reason to call him Mr. Monogram?

Julia said...

There are good and bad days in sports...Benneteau reacted to that.

Cornhole Sets

Karen said...

but HelenW why is that when Rafa says he is injured everyone believes him but when Roger says the same thing it is taken with a grain of salt. Could the answer be that there is never anyone from the Roger camp who speaks to the press about all the ailments that Roger is experiencing? Just as how Nadal fans can tell when something is not right with their player we Fed fans can determine that as well. There are Fed fans who are much more knowledgeable than I am who can tell when Roger is not arching his back properly to get into his serve. They know the game and they study the player. Me, I am just a weekend hacker so I know nothing about pronation and all that other stuff. What I can tell is that if anyone thinks that Roger was not experiencing problems early in the season they are either blind or have not watched this fellow long enough. In Miami the fellow could not find a forehand to save his life (hence the racquet smash) and even more recently he has said that he is now a clay court specialist as he seems to be having problems on the hard court. Could that be as a result of him having back issues. He denies it, but there you go. Just as how the hard courts are hard on Nadal they are also hard on Federer. Everyone plays on the same surface and depending on your style of play, and even then, you will get injured. Take a look at the men playing Bercy, one of the few who is not complaining or has something wrapped is Nadal and Federer. Everyone else has taping below their knees etc. If Nadal loses and someone says that it as a result of injury etc, especially this tournament, it would not be the truth as Nadal himself has said that this is the first time that during this part of the season he is well rested. The fact that he is well rested may have something to do with his ability right now to pull a Houdini on the court.

Helen W said...

Karen as far as I know Roger never, ever blamed his back injury for losing the AO -- his fans are the ones who trotted out an old injury as an excuse, as they are so often wont to do.

The reason folks believe that Rafa was injured are:

(1) as I said, people who knew his game could see that he was off it;

(2) he said so himself, even to the point of not defending his Wimby title, although he never blamed his FO loss on injury; and

(3) he has (in my view a deserved) reputation for honesty.

As far as Fed fans knowing that he had a back injury that hampered him at the AO: I can't say I follow him particularly, but I certainly read a lot of tennis boards at the time, and no-one was talking about Fed's serve being hampered by a back injury during the AO. OTOH, lots of people were talking about Rafa not playing well, even at the start of the clay season when he was winning.

Then there is the difference in the way that they lose. At the AO, in the final set, Federer seemed to go into a hissy fit and basically give up. He certainly was not showing any signs of a back injury. He did the same thing at the USO. And at the FO the year before, when he was dismembered by Nadal.

So people go with the evidence before their eyes in deciding the whys and wherefores.

Craig Hickman said...

Christopher said....

What's absurd, and an obscured view of reality is that the events that could have happened will somehow supercede the history of what did happen.

::

I agree. But no one is making that argument. I certainly am not. My point is simple: those who are bearing witness to the history being made are also aware of HOW that history was made. Raja won Roland Garros without having to beat the guy who kept him from winning it four years running.

That's not obscure or absurd and it makes no claims about what could have happened.

It's exactly what happened.

Thus, "the asterisk" in the minds of many who bore witness to the history Raja has made.

Helen W said...

The same point applies to the FO-Wimbledon double. I agree with you Christopher that the concept of a GOAT is nonsense; that being said, it is amusing that the many who obsess about this concept, and who want to award it to Federer, are largely the same folks that do not want to face up to how he got his career slam and the FO-Wimby double.

Karen said...

GOAT - a four legged beast that is eaten best when curried and served with white rice and lots of pepper. Usually at nine nights (wakes to you folks in the US). That is the only GOAT I recognise.

Christopher Crocker said...

Is this the same way that we remember how Agassi earned his '99 French Open title - completing the slam - by beating Medvedev, who upset not only Pete Sampras (though on Clay) but Gustavo Kuerten? I assume there is a similar 'asterix' by his title, and career slam?

By qualifying his achievment you are - in my mind at least - demeaning it. By remembering - as you say - 'how' it happenend, and the process of marking a mental asterix, you automatically consider alternate outcomes which did not take place - in this universe anyway- whether you realize it or not.

Christopher Crocker said...

On top of that, the only seeded player Agassi beat was defending, but hobbled, champion Carlos Moya, who dropped the first two sets of his opening match, and who went without a title during the '99 season, the only year he was without a title from 1995-2007.

Whole Sight said...

Craig said: "I said that [Federer's] Roland Garros victory will always been seen as the one he could only get when Rafa was injured and therefore couldn't make the final."

There will always be that question - but there will never be that answer. Nadal was playing poorly in that particularly event - that was part of why he was beaten by Soldering. Yes, Soldering played well, but he played well against a Nadal who could not get the ball as deep as usual. It was the beginning for Nadal of what we're still seeing from him today, even with the knees supposedly healed.

Given that Federer had beaten Nadal handily at Madrid, with what many commentators felt was an improved game plan, there is a reasonable possiblity he could have beaten a sagging Nadal if Soldering had not taken care of that first. "Reasonable possibility" doesn't mean it would have happened - only that it could have happened and wouldn't have been a stretch. The Nadal who destroyed Federer the previous year was not the same Nadal Federer would have encountered.

So the asterisk should be more in the shape of a question mark than an exclamation mark.