I know what you’re thinking – why’d I have to jinx Roger with my overconfident prediction yesterday? Well, I maintain that I didn’t jinx it – Novak simply played out of his mind all week and deserved to win. He beat the No. 3, the No. 2 and the No. 1 back-to-back! That’s insanity! Blah, it hurts to say it, but good for him.
I wonder if Roger is suffering from a mini case of the “Roddicks” meaning that he’s spent so much time dragging left handed kids over to Dubai and pummeling them on the practice courts, that he’s forgotten that there are a lot of very good right-handed players breathing down his neck.
Good thing for him that he can get his payback in Cincy! It will be fun to see motivated Roger, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy all raring to go (and maybe some of those other bit players – Blake, Youzhny, Gasquet, Monfils, etc. will get in the game, too.)
I didn’t watch Roger’s defeat, at least, which probably would have sent me into a tailspin of worry and regret. Instead I headed down to the Home Depot Center for the women’s final. I had great seats, by the way – third row back from the baseline – scored for cheap by my wonderful tennis instructor. The tournament must not make any money off of ticket sales if they’re giving those seats away for ten bucks a pop. It’s too bad, really, because it’s a pretty fun tournament. The stadium is small and well maintained, the booths are fun (my fave skin care brand, Dermalogica, was giving out free sunscreen samples today), and the overall vibe is laid back and upbeat. The crowd today was far from sold out, but it managed to be respectable. I left right after the lovely Ivanovic (so many creepy men with potbellies were taking her photo throughout the entire match – ick) swatted her last winning shot and gave her cutie pie fist pump of victory. It seemed like most people were going to stay for the doubles, though, which is good. The crowd was enthusiastic and knowledgeable – I’m always impressed at how diverse the tennis fan base is. There were five year old Russian girls cheering for Nadia in their native tongues, hard-core Serb fans with flags and posters, a group of So-Cal Asian teenagers in ANA t-shirts and a whole bunch of other people of all colors and creeds happy to be watching the match. The sport’s “white bread” rep is totally passe.
So back to the tennis – the final was good, if not electrifying. Ivanovic has a tidy all-round game with the addition of a lethal forehand – with a fierce finality to the stroke that’s almost Roger-like. Petrova, well, she has a thrilling backhand swinging volley, taking the ball out of the air and painting the lines with it. Her serve is solid, and she mixes things up well. That’s the best thing about watching tennis live, you may not get the sense of geometry as well when you don’t have the camera’s-eye view, but you definitely get a finer sense of the way the ball’s really moving through the air – the tricky slice, the flat zinger, the top spin that sends the opponent scooting back, the funky miss-hits – you can really appreciate the variety that these players have in their arsenals, which also means that you can appreciate their strategy more, too.
When I walked into the stadium before the match, the MC was asking the crowd, “Are there any Serbs in the house???” After a number of cheers, the MC continued, “Well, I have some news for you, Federer did NOT win today!” My heart sank slightly, but there’s nothing like some live tennis to cure the tennis fan blues! And it is a proud day for Serbia – they have two talented, attractive and charismatic champions today. I like to think Ana was inspired by her compatriot. So if I did jinx Roger, at least I gave joy to an entire nation.