Wow, what a way to wrap up the last couple weeks of tennis in NYC. Stunning. Right Nole? The No. 1 and No. 2 men were so evenly matched, both with a Major this year, both with expectations to win this one. Though Rafa’s performance on hard courts this season made the King of Clay title seem insulting – a 21-0 season record on hard courts going into the final , and only one break and one set given up in NYC before today – I still believed that Nole had the match on his racquet for most of it. It was Nole who won that 54 stroke rally, he was the one up 3-1 in the third set, with all the momentum and even the crowd, for once, on his side. At one point in the third set, he literally brought Rafa to his knees, as Nadal stumbled trying to retrieve a ball. Rafa then went on to save three break points in that game and win the set. All of Nole’s skill, all of his effort and fitness and sacrifice (no alcohol, no dessert, no gluten etc.) and in the end he simply Wasn’t Good Enough. Rafa’s championship performance was worth $3.6 million, which seems about right. All hail Rafa, King of Hardcourts.
This is Nadal’s thirteenth Major title, only one shy of Sampras’s supposedly untouchable 14. . .
It’s been a championship of big numbers. Serena Williams’s victory over Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final yesterday means she holds 17 majors, just one behind the legendary 18 held by both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. She won the first Major of her career in New York fourteen years ago. Amazingly, she keeps improving and keeps setting the standard ever higher for the rest of the field. As well as Vika played – I will forever admire her determination to win that second set on Sunday – Serena showed off yet another level that the rest of the ladies on tour can only hope to scale one day. Not to mention dizzing amount of prize money – like Rafa, Williams also earned $3.6 million this tournament, including that million dollar bonus for her successful summer campaign. Per The Guardian, she earned $9 million this season and $50 million in her career - “only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have earned more prize money in a single season.” Doin’ it for the ladies, Serena! (Not to mention herself)
Okay, a few questions for y’all: How are you liking this Vika vs. Serena rivalry? (I’m seriously digging it, enough to start cheering for Vika to make it to the finals on a regular basis!) and do you think Serena can match or beat Steffi Graf’s 22 Majors (or even surpass Margaret Court’s 24?)
The coaches’ take on Serika Azawiliams (via NYTimes):
“What is really interesting is that Vika is not at all intimidated by her opponent,” said Sam Sumyk, Azarenka’s coach. “And that is good because we know Serena is very, very strong but also likes to use intimidation to gain a bit of the edge over her opponents, and it’s good to see that doesn’t work with Vika.”
“It’s good for Serena that Vika is there at this stage; good for both of them,” said Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’s coach. “I think the best way to progress is to be pushed by someone.”
Serena’s “coaching consultant”, Patrick Mouratoglou has been a hot topic of “sizzling” speculationthe past couple weeks because of the obvious impact he’s had on Serena both “on and off the court” as the euphemism goes.
This was just awkward (and I’m not talking about the stupid old grunting question – GET OVER IT!):
Apparently the interviewer was hoping to surprise Serena by sneaking in the “canoodling” comment in the middle of Serena’s response to the original question about the coach. Serena was less fazed by this interruption than the other people around the table.
I admit to being both fascinated and dismayed by this torrid affair, but I’m going to suspend any judgment beyond saying that I’m really curious to see how it “plays” out.
Gosh, I have SO MUCH MORE I want to talk about. Here are some topics of conversation:
One of my favorite matches of the tournament was the doubles semi between the Bryan Brothers and the eventual men’s doubles champs Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek. It was all the best of doubles in one match – touch, power, strategy, tension, team dynamics, etc. As sorry as I was that the Bryans were denied their Grand Slam, I felt so lucky to witness the magic coming off Leander Paes’s racquet during that match.
I also caught the mixed doubles final. Congrats to double whammy Andrea Hlavackova, who won the mixed with the wonderful Max Minyi and then went on to take the women’s doubles title with partner Lucie Hradecka vs. Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua of Australia. The Czech team took out the Williams sisters in the semi finals.
I was thrilled that CBS broadcast the doubles. I think the network put in a generally solid performance over the two weekends of tennis, and it’s a shame that Major tournaments are leaving the major networks, and thus the cultural mainstream.
But – the Mary Carillo/John McEnroe commentating pairing is getting stale. We really need to add some fresh blood to the mix. Why not throw in a former (recent) player in with them, so we don’t get the same old “insights” ca. 2006 repeated over and over.
Tennis is so glamorous! (I’m digging Venus’s purple braids, the beautiful Jelena cheering for her man, and all the A-listers in the stands, including Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake, Queen Sophia, Martha Stewart, Becks and Charlie “Assad one day, Rafa/Nole the next” – Rose, etc.)
Half of the men’s top twenty don’t have one handed backhands, yet half the men’s quarterfinalists did – so why, exactly, is it considered such a disadvantage to have a one-handed backhand? Besides Nole, Rafa and occasionally Murray, it’s not like there’s been that many double handed backhands winning Major titles.
Double bageled on her birthday! Talk about a problem I’d like to have. But seriously, I felt for poor Carla vs. Serena.
Stop trying to make out Federer fandom as elitist, Steve Tignor, because it’s not. It’s not snobby to celebrate the beauty of Roger’s game and playing style (or that of any other player). Tennis is an individual sport with fluid nationalistic loyalties. A player’s style, personality, looks etc. earns him or her fans from around the world. Why is it “elitist” to love Roger’s backhand over Rafa’s fist pumps? It’s just a matter of personal preference and the stuff fan rivalries are made of. And the fact is, Federer has brought thousands (millions?) of new fans to the game – which makes being a Federer fan downright populist.
I’m sure most of you saw this video of Andy Roddick interviewing Roger Federer before the tournament:
I admit, with all the turmoil in Roger’s game lately, I did get this exciting idea: Andy Roddick coaches Roger Federer! (Stop laughing, I think Roger could get some Major inspiration from working with Andy – it’s a fine bromance!)
The bad hems! The unfortunate sweat stains! The droopy X across Rafa’s chest! Nike failed on many fashion fronts this tournament, though I did adore Rafa’s shorter shorts.
Adidas wins for having the “cute girl” dress of the tournament, capably modeled by Ivanovic, Hantuchova and Pennetta.
Li Na has to step it up, and I’m not talking about her fashion sense.
I’m not a Hewitt fan, but I did enjoy seeing the old, scrappy veteran prove that his determination NOT to retire was more than simply having nothing better to do with his time. I love seeing that love for the game.
Stan Wawrinka – the breakout star of the US Open! I enjoyed every point of his epic thumping of Andy Murray and all five sets of his heroic battle versus Novak Djokovic. I hope he made plenty of new fans with that brutal one handed backhand of his. (Fine, call me elitist!)
I loved Nole’s honesty when asked about that coaching warning he received during his semifinal: “There were a few times that I was looking to my box and my coach was trying to help out. So I have no complaints about the warning. I think it’s fair, in general, and I had to take it.” (via tennis.com)
I did not love the New Yorker’s profile of Nole - I thought it was unfair and overly critical. Novak may have some superstitions and quirks when it comes to his training, and he definitely had his bratty moments during his early years on tour, but he’s no “idiot”! He’s one of the brightest guys in the sport, which also makes him one of the smartest guys in sport. It seemed like the journalist was given the assignment to write about Novak and struggled to find much of a hook besides the fact that he has had some awkward moments on his way to the top. Who hasn’t acted like a fool while in their early twenties?
Monday evening men’s final – I laughed when I heard Jon Wertheim call it Nadal versus Djokvic takes on Judge Judy! Bring on the roof and the men’s semis on Friday, I say.
So, who’s ready for the indoor season? Any predictions for the WTF?