I always say that Rome is my favorite city in the world. Even though I was only there for five days in 1999, during which time my friend and I were chased up and down the Spanish Steps daily by rabid public masturbators and my watch was stolen from my bedside table while I slept, I still managed to fall in love with the place.
After this week’s Masters Series tournament, I think I’ve changed my mind:
1. The crowds aren’t just cooler-than-thou, they’re cooler than the whole damn tournament. Where are they? Except when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been on court, the seats have been noticeably empty. Today’s disastrous retirements won’t improve tomorrow’s turn out.
2. Roger Federer won more points in yesterday’s quarterfinal than Stepanek (I think it was 86 to 82) and Stepanek was the one who made it through to the semis.
3. I think Stan has body snatched Roger. The forehand, the backhand, and even the post-match racket clap and wave routine all look suspiciously familiar. . .
5. Hey, tournament D.J.! Can you think of a more appropriate Stevie Wonder song to play during warm ups than “Isn’t She Lovely”? How about “Superstition” or even “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”? And I have no gripe with Kool & the Gang, but playing “Celebration” during Stepanek’s medical treatment was sadistic. (“Jungle Boogie” would’ve been a better choice.)
6. Radek Stepanek creeps me out. The throbbing vein in his forehead, the garish (tucked-in) shirts, the barely-legal fiance eleven years his junior (who happens to be Nicole Vaidisova!) – it’s just yucky.
7. Total number of games played in today’s semifinals: 10
Before I bum everyone out, here are some good things we can take away from this tournament so far:
1. Tomorrow’s final could be competitive. The Djokovic/Wawrinka head-to-head is 3/2, with one of Stan’s wins coming on clay (Novak retired from that match, but hey, let’s keep things positive.)
2. Roger’s bettered his results on clay from last year (when he didn’t play Estoril and lost to Volandri in the 3rd round of Rome.)
3. Blake and Roddick have gained a smidgen of hope as they look forward to September’s Davis Cup semi final in Spain.
4. It’s almost over! We can forget this week ever happened and move on to Hamburg.