AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill via Daylife
Ahhhhh. . . .for the first few games it was all so sweet for Fed fans. Roger was playing flawless tennis. Rafa was shanking, playing a bit tentatively. Then, at 4-2 up, Roger hit a few funny shots – netted a volley, hit an inside in forehand a bit wide, came into the net to prove some strange point (and end up losing it.) Sigh. . .and suddenly it felt all too familiar.
Stay away from Fedal, kids, the flashbacks are killer.
But Roger kept it together. He took the tie break. He held on by the skin of his teeth to win the first set. Interesting, it felt like the story was changing.
Remember how Roger went on to break Rafa’s serve in the first game of the second set? For a fleeting moment (very fleeting) I thought it would all go his way. The broken back at love. Broken again. Rafa hits amazing shots and then there’s a ten minute break for fireworks – they were redundant.
Unraveling. . . .yes, I’m speaking for both of us.
Now that I’ve had a moment or two to gather up the strings and cover up my gaping, open wounds. . . it was a great match. Not a tidy match, but it was impossible not to get swept away with all the nerves, the amazing shots, the surprises and the questions. It’s a mental game, you know. Except for when it’s physical. That’s why tennis can be oh, so very excruciating – and exhilarating – to watch. I’d like it even better if I didn’t have to endure that feeling of doom deep downin the pit of my stomach.
It was pure torture for Fed fans. Roger’s break at 4-3 in the third set, after that piss poor stretch. Only to be followed by a . . .break back by Rafa! His break chances in the fourth, including two when Roger was serving for the set. Torture. Almost like Roger was trying to kill us. (Yes, I’m being over dramatic.)
You’re one sadistic man, Roger.
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make this all about Rog. You know that for Fed fans, that’s exactly what it’s all about. Rafael Nadal did what Rafael Nadal does when he plays Roger – weather Roger’s highs, exploit the lows, hold steady until steady feels like a steam locomotive barreling down the tracks, destination “WIN.”
Here’s the thing Fed fans have to accept: Roger didn’t play his steely best, but he sure as hell played well. There were as many ups as downs and Roger had plenty of chances against a sometimes shaky Rafa. Nadal was just too good.
It will be fascinating to see how the next couple days play out, who Rafa faces in the final and how the result sets the tone for the rest of the season. Does Rafa win #11, sure to add #12 come spring on the Roland Garros clay? Or does Nole continue to do to Rafa what he’s been doing to Rog all these years? Or. . .does Murray surprise everyone?
Roger fans, lets take a quick break from the anguish for a moment to enjoy and savor what our man’s accomplished during this tournament, especially the beautiful wins over young gun (today in a stand off with the police?!?!) Tomic and once and future threats like Del Po. Our man still has spectacular tennis in him – I think that these days he just needs a tad more luck. Like, say, a tournament that doesn’t involve him playing Rafa.
So now: accept, move on, congratulate Rafa and enjoy the finals! (And get some sleep. . . )