Roger The Great's Tennis Spot

Friday, July 14, 2006

Putting Wimbledon To Bed

I was going to post on the great tennis Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet are continuing to play this week, but my heart just wasn't into it. I love both of those guys but my thoughts (and a lot of others it seems) are still with this past Wimbledon fortnight.

One thing I've taken away is that tennis' two top players genuinely like each other. Whether you hate one or the other as a player, it's hard to argue that both are really nice guys. Both generally speak well of each other when asked. Roger occasionally has been accused of bad mouthing Rafa or his game but I think his comments are simply being misconstrued. And Rafa never says a bad word about anyone. He's such a likeable kid off the court, it's amazing the transformation that takes place when he's hitting a tennis ball. We've seen and heard small things that also lend to their friendliness: Rafa and Roger low fiving while presenting their trophies to the crowd; and Peter Bodo's story about Rafa telling Fed in the locker room how amazing he played versus Ancic. These guys may say things in the heat of battle in the future that may not be flattering, but I really believe they get along great.

Another hot topic in the past week has been Roger's burgeoning metrosexuality. I appreciate and admire Roger's sense of style and that he takes great pride in his appearance. In that I have no problem at all. However, I do agree that Roger was being a little silly constantly clinging to his custom white sport coat like Linus with his blanket. In the beginning of the tournament he had stated it would just be worn for the first match. Soon however, they were inseparable. Along with that, Roger also managed to sneak on a nice watch before the trophy ceremony Sunday. By the time he was holding the trophy he looked less like a player and more like a GQ cover model. Maybe it was a bit much.

Finally, this was the spring board that will lead to the stretch run of the grand slam season. What will we have to look forward to this summer? As stated at the beginning, some young guns like Murray, Gasquet, and Berdych may be big factors on the fast hard courts. Marcos Baghdatis has shown he lifts his game when the prizes are the greatest. He is no longer looked at as an up and comer but one who is expected to begin delivering titles. Andy Roddick seems motivated to play anything and everything this summer in order to find his game before he reaches Flushing Meadow. Andre Agassi will be making his farewell run. And how will strong hard courters like Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Hewitt, and Safin fare? But of course, it will likely be a two horse race: Federer and Nadal. Neither man will play a ton before the Open but both will come prepared. I really like Federer for the US Open this year. I believe that surface favors him almost as much as the grass does right now. Bring on the hard courts!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Back To The Same World I Left

Well, it was a great two and a half weeks off for me and as I return I just hope I've returned to a few remaining readers who have missed my posts. *L*

I was fortunate that I was able to watch quite a bit of Wimbledon while I was away, sometimes to my wife's chagrin. One of the important matches that I did miss was the Nadal-Agassi clash. I happened to catch the score on one of the scrolling tickers while I was in Times Square. I was disappointed to know that I would never see Agassi on the grass again. That match was part of a two week period where the tennis world was almost turned on it's head.

As I returned home this weekend before the big Fed-Nadal final I truly believed this was the most important match tennis had seen since Federer won Wimbledon in 2003. Why, you ask? Well, this wasn't just another final and it wasn't just another match in this growing rivalry. If Nadal had managed to win this match, I truly believed it was the end of the Federer era in tennis. I'm not saying that Federer wouldn't go on to win more slams or be successful, but his era of dominating men's tennis would be over. Many would look at Nadal as the best player in the world and he would command a 7-1 head to head including beating Roger in his house. Roger's legacy he's working toward as the greatest player ever would also begin to be tarnished as he wouldn't even be the best player currently. On top of that, it would have to destroy Roger internally for any future meetings with Rafa. There was so much at stake here for Federer and so much to gain for Nadal.

However... Roger didn't allow this to happen. He played a solid match and defeated his arch-rival in four sets: 6-0 7-6 6-7 6-3. This was such a huge win for Roger. He claimed his fourth straight Wimbledon title, maintained his status in people's minds as the clear #1, and built some positive foundations toward future clashes with Nadal.

Let's not forget the great run by Nadal here to shock the world by making the Wimbledon final this year. He took advantage of a pretty soft draw and played great tennis for two weeks. If Roger hadn't been on his game, he had given himself a shot at being the first guy since Bjorn Borg to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon back to back. This was a great run for Nadal and he will be a serious threat at the US Open this year.

Tennis is also the better for Sunday's clash. Federer's win takes this rivalry a step further and I believe will increase interest even more to draw people to the game right now. We're all fortunate as fans and we should all enjoy the ride.

On a side note, another thing I saw while I was in Times Square was the Federer ESPN commercial on the big screen above ESPN Zone. I just figured I'd take a picture and post it here for all of you. I thought it was kind of cool.