Friday, September 28, 2012

Roger the soccer guy

Roger Federer is gearing up for the Gillette South America tour, where he will travel with the likes of Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, Bob and Mike Bryan and more to countries in South America to treat the people to his beautiful tennis for the first time.  In an unusual display, however, instead of tennis pictures they are going the soccer (or football in other parts of the world) route.  Take a look at these great samples:

Even though he looks great in the soccer gear, I'm really glad he's a tennis player!  He's been having fun on Facebook asking for suggestions of nicknames he can use.  He decided to go with "Federinho."  Just don't hurt yourself with all these fancy moves, Roger!

He also posted a picture of himself on a treadmill saying he's back in the gym.  Does that mean he's planning to play Shanghai?  I hope so!  I want him to at least make 300 weeks at #1, if not end the year at #1!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back in the winner's circle

I'm really happy to see Caroline Wozniacki finally holding a trophy again.  It's been a long title drought of more than a year for her.  After holding the #1 ranking for over a year, in the midst of much criticism for not having won a grand slam, she has now slipped down to #11.  She has tried connecting with a couple different coaches to get her game to a level to make that big breakthrough in the majors.  Instead I think it has rather confused her game and taken away what she is best known for - her incredible consistency.  I'm sure it has been very frustrating to hear so many giving her advice on how she can add more offense, hit more winners, and have something to offer against those with the big power who seem to be able to hit through her. 

Unfortunately I wasn't able to watch any of this tournament, as it wasn't televised and I couldn't find it on any computer streams, so I wasn't able to see what caused the huge score discrepancy of 6-1 6-0 in the final.  Regardless, though, she came through with a win, including winning a tight three setter in the semis, which she has at times lately had a hard time having success with.  

There is a stacked field at the tournament in Tokyo this week.  Lets hope this title gives her confidence to make some inroads against some of the top players and get her back on track and back toward the top of the rankings once again.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Speed - Federer vs. Nadal

Awesome video showing the difference in speed between the way that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play.  While Roger plays through a whole game, Rafa still hasn't served his second point yet.  Wow, they just couldn't be more opposite!

Roger just quickly and elegantly goes about his business, while Rafa tears around the court in animal-like fashion, then slowly and methodically gets set up to serve again.  I for one happen to like the quick and elegant!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Roger Federer Davis Cup Highlights + Interview

For those like me who didn't get to see Switzerland Davis Cup matches this weekend, here are some highlights of Roger Federer's singles wins to help get Switzerland back to the World Group next year:

And this one shows the last game, then the on-court interview after the match:

It was great seeing him play again.  However, this quote was a bit concerning to me:  “I need holiday badly,” he said. “I’m wounded, tired, and exhausted and need some time off right now and see where I go from here. Nothing has been decided for the rest of year, even though there is a plan in place, that plan might change. I need to go back to drawing board to see what’s important.”

Regarding the "wounded" comment, did anyone else notice his serve looked a little bit different?  Maybe it was my imagination, but to me when he hit the ball it looked like he was holding his body different, almost trying to protect it.  I noticed that before I read his comment.  In any event, he has played a lot of tennis this year, added tournaments he doesn't usually play plus the Olympics.  I hope he goes and has a couple lovely weeks laying on the beach and doing not much else!  And I would imagine it may be unlikely we would see him in Shanghai, but time will tell.  Go rest, Roger!!!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fun Roger pictures

Here's something kind of fun.  This is a picture of Roger at a Davis Cup practice, and look, he actually has some muscles with those skinny arms of his!!!

I'm always amazed at how he can play such incredible tennis, yet look like he doesn't have any muscles whatsoever when surely he must do quite a few weights.  Well, I guess he's just hiding them under his sleeves.  Maybe he needs to go with the Nadal-wear of old and do tank tops when he plays!

Here's a cute one of him and Stan together.  Hopefully they can have more success in Davis Cup this time around!

Here's a couple sweet ones I never got a chance to share.  So glad he loves his wife and family!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

U.S. Open over and out

Wow, what a match!  When I saw the wind once again and how that was affecting play in the first few games I really didn't know what to expect.  Novak Djokovic was obviously out of sorts from the start, not able to figure out how to overcome this disruption to his style of play.  It turned out to be a see-saw affair, however, as one would take advantage while the other was down, only to see the other turn it around.  Their rallies they had were incredible, with the longest being a 54-shot rally, and several in the 30s.  Even when they ended with an error, often from the wind, it didn't diminish the, dare I say, ridiculousness of what they were accomplishing!

The first set tiebreak was incredible!  I had stupidly scheduled my own tennis match that day, thinking surely there wouldn't be a Monday final for the fifth year in a row.  I needed to leave during the tiebreak but I thought maybe I could get through it and be a couple minutes late.  When Murray hit a fairly easy ball into the net on set point at 6-7 I knew I wasn't going to be able to finish it and had to wait through my own match (walking past the TV in the club with everyone gathered around without looking).  Talk about having problems concentrating on my match with that going on (though I did manage to win our first long set and leave it on serve in the second).  I digress - that tiebreak was very important for Murray's confidence and belief that he could do it.  I won't go through each set, but when he lost the 4th, with Djokovic rallying and taking control in the 3rd and 4th sets, I was getting pretty nervous for him that he was going to go away in the 5th.  He came out with fierce determination, however.  I can almost see his mind working, that he is NOT going to lose again.  He came out the much stronger player and Novak was obviously losing energy, surprising for someone who has played incredible back-to-back matches of endurance in previous majors.  Murray held strong through the whole set, really not showing any nerves, and closed it out at 6-2.  With a very muted celebration, and some hidden tears, Andy Murray finally stopped the drought of Great Britain grand slam winners and became the fourth different man to win a major in 2012.

Though I'm certainly not a big Murray fan, I really wanted him to win this one and get past this huge hurdle in his career.  So now we will have four long months to wonder who is going to emerge in Australia (assuming they get this pay issue worked out) after each of the big 4 winning one this year.  It will be truly fascinating.  And before that, who will end up as #1 at the end of the year?  Will Roger have the energy to defend all those points from last year and hold on to #1?  Or will this loss kick Novak into gear to try to have a strong finish to the year and gain it back?  It all remains to be seen.

 And I would be remiss not to mention Serena's great win on Saturday.  I was so pleased that this wasn't just another blow-out women's final, which gets so boring!  Victoria Azarenka really fought back and made it a great match.  Surely she must have been disappointed that she wasn't able to close things out when she served for it, but she also knew Serena is a fighter and wouldn't let it go easily.  I think they each did themselves proud and gave the New York crowd a great women's final.  Good to see some Americans come through, along with the Bryan Brothers winning their 12th grand slam trophy and breaking the record for the most major wins.

Time to take a bit of a tennis hiatus with some family stuff going on for the next week.  We'll see if I even get any Davis Cup watched or not.  All in all it was a great U.S. Open in spite of the disappointment of Roger losing in the quarters, and looking forward to next month already!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A strange super Saturday at the Open

Is Andy thanking God for the wind?
It was indeed another strange day at the U.S. Open.  While I have seen many a match played in very windy conditions, I have certainly never seen chairs or bags blow onto the court in the middle of the point!  Is it fair for the players to have to play in these conditions?  Tomas Berdych, and maybe Novak Djokovic, would say no, while obviously Andy Murray and David Ferrer seemed to be handling themselves just fine.  Yes it's unfortunate to not be able to go out there and play "normal" tennis.  But weather is part of professional sports and something that needs to be dealt with, and whichever player handles it better will be the victor.  

The most unfortunate part I felt was for David Ferrer.  He handled himself very well in those first seven games and Djokovic didn't.  But in spite of there being blue skies still  he was not allowed to try to serve out the set.  I understand the need for precaution (though it sounds like the severe storm didn't come), but what a frustrating situation.  I hope for his sake he is able to come back tomorrow and serve out the set on the first try.  Even winning the first set, his chances of pulling off the upset, in my opinion, would probably be 5% or less.  But he would have to feel good to at least take a set off the defending champion.

I have to admit as I was watching the first semifinal that I was wishing these conditions had been in effect Wednesday night as Roger took the court against Berdych.  When he plays in wind it seems to affect him not a bit.  What a different scenario we could be looking at.  But that isn't the case and one must move on (though it certainly ticks me off when I once again see articles coming out that the end is near for Federer just because he lost a match again - don't even get me going on that one!).

Anyway, I regress.  I would predict a four set win for Novak against Ferrer and a straight set win by Serena tomorrow.  As for Monday, though I'm not really a Murray fan, I would like to see him get his first grand slam win.  It's time and I hope he can pull it off.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A sad day in tennis

The look on his face and the tears in his eyes say it all in this picture.  After having to wait overnight to finish his match against Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy came out playing great tennis, winning the 1st set tiebreak handily.  Things were going along great in the 2nd too, but when they got to a tiebreak the general consensus was that whoever took the set would win the match, and that certainly turned out to be true.  You could see the energy begin to drain out of him when he lost that breaker, and with Delpo playing increasingly better he was just outmatched.  I had expected this wouldn't be a match he would win, but there was a little hope with the first set win.  With his final service game I was trying to imprint in my mind his quirky service motion I have gotten so familiar with, the way his body position is when he hits his forehands, and his interesting straight-armed backhands, all of which make him Andy Roddick on the tennis court.  

In the end, though, everyone knew one of he matches this week would be his last.  The emotions on court and in the stands were both heartbreaking and touching at the same time.  The tears came for me watching his wife Brooklyn break down.  I will miss his quick wit and the fun he brings to the tour, but I wish him the best in the life he is now looking forward to starting.

And, of course, it was a sad day for other reasons too.  While I felt nervous about this Berdych match from the start when I saw the draw, I still really expected him to pull it off.  He had been playing so well lately!  And he started off great with a break.  If only he could have held onto that, the whole result could have been very different.  But with his first serve not being very effective and spraying forehands all over the place, things just weren't working in his game, and Berdych was coming on strong.  I did think, when he pulled off the 3rd set, that maybe things were going to turn around with another 2-set-down victory.  It simply wasn't to be, though.  Of course I'm disappointed, but I'm not gutted as I have been in past losses (like a year ago).  Getting the Wimbledon title was huge, as was getting back to #1.  To keep winning every major at the age of 31 would be almost a miracle, so I am going to be happy with what has been accomplished this year, which has been so much, and try not to let it get me down.  I do think he will win at least one more major still (not sure where) and everything he wins now is so exciting!  So hang in there Fed fans through the ups and downs.  Though he sounded pretty disappointed in his press conference, he will rebound as he always does and come back to win more titles to thrill us all!

And in the meantime, I wouldn't mind if someone new were able to step up and win this thing, though obviously Djokovic is the heavy favorite now.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rain at the Open

What an anticlimactic day at the U.S. Open.  What looked to be a great Order of Play turned out instead to be a series of delays, moving courts, and very little accomplished.  While those who did get their matches finished (namely Victoria Azarenka and David Ferrer) feel a great deal of relief, I'm sure those who are left hanging are dealing with some frustration, knowing the schedule is getting behind.  And it always intrigues me, when they have to carry over a match, how the scheduling gets decided.  I mean, why would they put the Errani-Vinci match on before the resumption of the Djokovic-Wawrinka match, which really needs to get finished?

And, of course, the much anticipated match between Roddick and Del Potro, where everyone is wondering if it will be Andy's last match, ended up having a completely different feel than expected with really more of an eye to the weather than the drama it deserves.  The problem is that it really doesn't look much better for tomorrow.

If this is making me a bit cranky wondering when the big matches really will be and how I can work my schedule around something unknown, I can just imagine what it does to the players, and to those who actually have tickets to the event!  I pretty much plan my life around tennis matches, especially if Roger Federer is playing, and it's driving me crazy wondering how it's all going to work out!  Will he actually play his quarterfinal tomorrow night, or will it end up being Thursday afternoon when I have something planned?  Will the semis actually be on Saturday?  Will the final be moved to Monday once again, and do I cancel my plans for Monday afternoon?  Enough to drive those who just like to know what's going on a bit crazy!  I guess we will see what tomorrow holds.  Rain rain, go away!