Hey, that was fun! More fun than I was expecting, to be honest.
Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer took to the court this evening in Cincy to play their quarterfinal and thirty-first match against one another. I plopped my baby on the ground and let her crawl all over the living room while I watched, picking her up sometimes (mostly during the first set) to teach her how to do the Happy Fed Fan Dance. Too bad she won’t remember it – because Roger was playing some of his most exciting tennis in months, maybe even since little Fry was born. I was like “Oh yeah, this is why I love to see him play!” The silky movement, the razor sharp forehands, the tacky stick to those volleys! It’s been so long since he’s played so well against someone so good.
Nadal won. He needed five match points to do it, but he found a way. That’s what Rafa does. He’s special like that. This match even gives him a head-to-head edge on Roger on hard courts (!) something I never thought would happen. Well, good for him! As a Fed fan, I’m just thrilled to see Roger finding his best self as a player, bringing the magic, looking strong and focused and motivated to do better. That forehand! Wow, it really has been a while.
That’s what makes the Fedal rivalry so great, yes even for the losing side. When Roger pulls out a screaming down the line forehand winner vs. say, a Daniel Brands type, it just doesn’t have the same sizzle. Sure, there have been some lackluster Fedal matches, but whenever the score is close you know that they are wringing the absolute best out of the other’s game. The fact that their playing styles are so different makes this particularly entertaining.
I’m disappointed that Roger didn’t challenge that final point- Rafa’s match winning forehand was out on the replay – but the circumstance gives this match a pleasingly pleasingly unfinished quality, an intriguing ellipses instead of a definite end. It’s a promise of more to come. At this point in both men’s careers, this is the result we’re all hoping for! Maybe Fry will have time to learn the dance.
I find no joy in the idea of Roger ranked #7, however. In fact, I’m just not going to think about it for a while.
Here’s what I am thinking about:
Novak Djokovic’s frustrations. There was his missed chance at the French this spring, the loss to Andy Murray at Wimbledon, the distraction of his father’s recent Fedal comments, Rafa’s backhand in Montreal and now this three sets loss to John Isner postponing his “Career Golden Masters” for at least another year. (Why is it “golden” – does anyone know? Does that indicate that the World Tour Finals is also included?) I have no doubt that Nole will figure out a way to win in Ohio before he calls it quits and I hope he’s put any disappointment aside for now. The guy needs a mental break before NYC.
Andy Murray also lost today, to Tomas Berdych. Tomas and Rafa will face one another in the semis. Isner gets to try again versus Juan Martin del Potro, after losing to him in the D.C. final. As much as I like Isner and would love to see an American win the title in Cincy, I can’t help but hold out for a del Potro vs. Nadal final. It’s one of my favorite match ups.
On the ladies side, Serena Williams will continue her quest for her first Cincinnati title as she faces defending champ Li Na in the semifinals. It should be a fun one. Speaking of fun ones, I love this quote from Serena after winning her quarterfinal versus Simona Halep::
“I have quite a few things on my tennis bucket list,” Williams said (via USA Today). “This (winning the title in Cincy) obviously is one of them. But I like to believe if it doesn’t happen this year, I always have another chance.”
What else do you think is on Serena’s tennis bucket list?
Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Jankovic will play in the other match on Saturday. The women’s semis sure don’t lack for personality!
Speaking of big personalities, what do y’all make of the surprising-but-not announcement that Maria Sharapova and Jimmy Connors have called it quits after just one tournament? Surely Maria’s loss to Sloane wasn’t that unthinkable? Fritters thinks Jimmy simply said something rude. I’m trying to think of an alternative explanation and the best I can come with is that Maria said something that pissed Jimmy off. What scenarios have you dreamed up?
Enjoy the tennis! Don’t forget to dance!