It's that time of year where there's not a whole lot of tennis news going on. I get a little bored with the summaries of the tennis year (though I did enjoy going back and reading a few of my blog posts from July during and after Wimbledon recently and reliving all those emotions!).
What's fun to me is finding some random videos of humorous incidents with the players. I thought this one was great! (Pardon the language)...
Once again it is obvious why no one can ever be Roger Federer! :)
Wow, what an impressive performance from Radek Stepanek to win the 100th Davis Cup final in the fifth rubber, with all the pressure from his home crowd firmly on his shoulders. There was a lot of talk about his advanced age of almost 34, but once again the 30-somethings are proving themselves, and Stepanek showed himself to have the mental toughness and the physical stamina to go four hard sets and take the victory from younger player Nicholas Almagro. And the way he was throwing himself around the court sacrificing his body was really rather inspirational! I have to say that while I have gotten to be quite a David Ferrer fan over the last couple years for so many reasons, and while I most definitely will probably never be a Tomas Berdych fan, I still was pulling for the Czech team. Spain has gotten to win this thing quite a lot of time in the last few years and it just felt like it would have been rather anticlimactic for them to win it again. It was more of a feel good kind of story to have the Czech Republic win it in the same year that the women won the Fed Cup, having only won one previously title, and that 32 years ago. I have also gotten so that I really rather enjoy Radek Stepanek. It took me a while to get used to his rather bizarre looks, but now that I have it's fun to watch his old school style of play. And to be honest I think I got a bit attached to him when he did the worm on the court when he won his last title. But all that aside, I couldn't help but be happy for him that he was able to stay strong and serve out that final game, knowing how much it would mean to everyone involved. I can imagine the immense relief to get that last point and know he had carried his country to victory! Well, that truly means that competitive tennis is done for 2012. We will continue to see some fun exhibitions over the next month-and-a-half I'm sure, but that's not the same. I will watch some old matches from this year and also some DVDs of Federer grand slam wins while I wait. But I already know how excited I will be as January rolls around and the Australian Open looms close. I have actually been close to tears on the first day of the AO, hearing the introductory music - that's how much tennis has come to mean to me. So until then we will find other things to occupy our time, but for the hard core tennis fans we are always on the look-out for a good tennis story or tennis star sighting as we wait for one of our true joys of life to begin again.
First of all, congratulations to Novak Djokovic who, through gritty determination was able to win the World Tour Finals, coming from behind in both sets to defeat Roger Federer. It was a high intensity match with twists and turns in the plot from start to finish. Though it seemed certain to go three sets when Roger was up 40-15 at 5-4, all of a sudden it seemed to be championship point at 5-6.
For Federer fans it was a disappointing end to be sure. It took me a while to come to terms with it. However, to be honest, I hadn't really expected him to win this tournament from the start. The fact that he was able to pull out a win in the semifinal against Murray and get to the final was incredibly exciting. This match against Djokovic was played at the highest level. Sure there were some errors that gave points away, but there were an awful lot of jaw dropping points also and not a boring moment of the match. Novak did what he does so often - hang in there when he's not playing as well and then through sheer determination snatch the match back. But the fact that he had to fight so hard, bloodying up his elbow in the process, against a guy six years his senior, shows the level that Roger Federer is still at, and anyone who is still asking if he is going to retire soon should be ashamed of themselves!
While maybe at this point I should be showing interviews and media blitzes from Novak, this is primarily a Fedfan blog, so while I definitely give much credit to those who do well, my heart is always with Roger. So those who are in the same boat should take much comfort and enjoyment in the fact that he had more wins this year than he has had in quite a few years, he won six titles this year (including 1 GS and 3 Masters 1000s), got #1 back for a record 302 weeks, and overall simply was amazing, making his fans proud. He is very deserving of some beach time, which he loves, with his three girls and hopefully feeling rejuvenated and ready for a new season to set more amazing records.
Here is a video of some behind the scenes stuff after his match. Love his laugh! I think he is doing just fine after his loss:
Though the 2012 season is mostly over there is still Davis Cup this weekend, plus quite a few exhibitions that maybe we will get to see some of. I will still continue to give updates whenever I find some fun or interesting tennis tidbits. Tennis is never truly over!
What an amazing comeback from the GOAT Roger Federer in his semifinal against Andy Murray. He started the match by immediately getting broken and just had the kind of flat, tired look to him that he had in the Gold Medal match and the Shanghai semi that he played against Murray. I admit that I didn't really like his chances. To me it just kind of felt like he was tired from a long season and didn't have enough left, and Murray seemed inspired, ready to make his first final in London. How wrong I was! Unlike yesterday, he converted on his first break point to get it back on serve again, and unlike yesterday, though he got down a minibreak in the tiebreak he come back from that and played some great points to take the first set.
Losing the first set seemed to really discourage Murray, not to mention the great crowd support Federer was getting, and it all went downhill for him from there. And Roger was on fire with the momentum of that first set. It was a very happy day for Federer and his fans and he now has the opportunity to win his seventh World Tour Finals, his third in a row.
Novak Djokovic had a comeback of his own after losing the 1st set to Del Potro. Who will triumph in this final pitting #1 against #2?
Well, needless to say a second loss in a row to Juan Martin Del Potro wasn't the result Roger Federer was hoping for in his last Round Robin match. Though it has to play tricks with your mind just a bit knowing you didn't "have to" win the match to move on, it was still obvious that Roger really wanted to end this portion of the tournament with another win to give him momentum heading into the semis. And I'm sure he really would have liked to get it done in 2 sets rather than 3, knowing he has the disadvantage of not getting a day to rest. However, failure to convert break points in the first set, as well as playing a terrible tiebreak didn't work in his favor, so instead he not only had to play three sets, but also got his first loss in the World Tour Finals since 2009. Hopefully, rather than giving him less confidence moving forward, it will instead motivate him out of his frustration in losing this match. He was definitely showing more emotion than normal, shouting out in frustration at some of his more annoying misses.
With Ferrer's win over Tipsarevic, that means that Federer will play Murray in the evening match (Djokovic vs. Del Potro in the afternoon). I really don' know how to predict the outcome of this match. On the one hand Roger could have a letdown after having just played three sets and being tired from a long season. On the other hand, he has lost to Murray the last two times they played, both at the Olympics and in Shanghai. He's certainly not going to want to end the season with two losses in a row to both him and Del Potro. I think both Federer and Murray are going to have a lot of determination in this match. Murray, of course, has the advantage of having a day of rest. Will this be enough to see him through? So our possibilities for the final are Djokovic-Federer, Djokovic-Murray, Del Potro-Federer or Del Potro-Murray. After some matches during the Round Robin stage that were certainly less than tantalizing tennis, the next two days should be a treat, no matter what the outcome. While I certainly would love to see my guy Roger prevail once again, even if he loses in the semis he has had an amazing season and accomplished so much, so I will try to take that attitude into the semis showdown.
Sure feels good, for those of us Fed fans, to have him through to the semis without major stress! In his match today against David Ferrer, Roger Federer certainly wasn't playing his A game. It's always a big plus, when looking at the stats, to find the winners higher than the errors, and today that certainly wasn't the case. However, it also has to be taken into consideration when playing an opponent the quality of David Ferrer, who is one of the best returners in the game, that hitting winners is much more challenging when the shots just keep coming back. Even with first serve percentages, it can affect a person when they know their serve is going to be returned unless it is something special, as Roger himself noted after the match. But no one said a win has to be pretty - a win is a win - and in this case, because it was in straight sets, it ensures a semifinal berth. At this point Federer is the only one in either group with a definite place in the semis. Even Djokovic, though he has won both his previous two matches, did so with the loss of a set; therefore there is room, if he were to lose in straight sets tomorrow, to still not make it in, though a pretty unlikely scenario. Murray and Berdych are in similar situations as each other, with each having won and lost the same amount of matches and sets, though Berdych will have a little bigger challenge on his hands trying to beat the #1 player in the world. It all gets quite complicated and I'm not going to try to give all the particulars which I don't understand myself. But I think the only one who doesn't have any chance to qualify for the semis would be Tipsarevic, who lost both his matches so far in straight sets. Lots more good tennis to still come in the next four days, watching only the best of the best.
Federer fans will be pleased to hear this morning, as we begin the exciting week of the World Tour Finals, that Roger continues another amazing streak of winning the Fan Favorites award for a 10th straight year(with 57% of the vote), and also winning the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award for an 8th out of 9 years. To me this latter one is the most impressive award he could win because it is voted by his peers. As fans we may feel like we "know" him pretty well by all that we are allowed to see and observe of his life on and off the courts, but his fellow players truly do know him and see how he acts in all aspects of life. To continue receiving this award year after year (with only one break, going to Nadal a few years ago) just shows what great character he has and why we as fans love him so much! Other notable recipients were, of course, Djokovic and the Bryan Brothers ending the year as #1, most improved Marinko Matosevic, newcomer of the year Martin Klizan (maybe Janowicz would have gotten it if the Paris tournaments would have been a couple weeks ago, as he has now moved up to 26 in the world!), comeback player of the year Tommy Haas (yay!), Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award to Djokovic for his work with various charities including his own foundation, and doubles fan favorite was the Bryan Brothers for a record 8th year.
We have a great group of tennis players that we are privileged to follow. And unlike being a fan/follower of an actor or actress where we mostly see them playing roles, we get to follow the real person and often hear from them what they are thinking and feeling about different aspects of life. I particularly feel so fortunate to be able to participate in this period of time where the great Roger Federer is playing, and to have been able to watch him in person on a couple of occasions.
I was hard pressed to know who to cheer for in this final. In spite of none of the top 4 even making it to the quarterfinals, it turned out to be a fascinating tournament, thanks to newcomer and heart winner Jerzy Janowicz. He was unable to believe it himself the incredible run he had this week, going from a qualifer to a now seeded player for the Australian open, and more than doubling his career earnings to date. He won many fans this week, and hopefully many more sponsors, seeing his grit and determination to hold strong in the tough moments, yet to also show how much it all meant to him with his tears and other great displays of emotion. In the end, though, I think he simply ran out of steam to face someone with the never-give-up attitude of David Ferrer. Who could not be happy for this guy who gives his all every moment of every match, who has won more matches than anyone this year along with more titles, and who had the most wins in Masters tournaments without holding a title. You could tell by his response just how much it meant to him to finally have one of these titles to his name (in spite of it being a very strange looking trophy!). He said afterward: "I was very nervous because it was my chance to win a first Masters
title, but somehow I knew it was my turn," ... "To me this is a dream to
win here. If I won, it's because I have a great team."
And being that he had to miss out on all the pre-tournament hype in London leading up to the World Tour Finals, at least he knows it was all worth it. Much more to come soon as we anticipate a great week of tennis ahead!
Who in the world is this guy Jerzy Janowicz? A few days ago most people who consider themselves knowledgeable in tennis didn't have a clue who he was. What a statement he has made this week! With a strange BNP Paribas Masters tournament in Paris this week already with Federer pulling out at the last minute, Nadal still injured, and Djokovic losing in his first round match, a young Polish qualifier has taken full advantage. He started by beating 19th ranked Philip Kohlschreiber, went on to beat 14th ranked Marin Cilic, then taking out 4th ranked Andy Murray, and if that wasn't enough decided to give it another go with 9th ranked Janko Tipsarevic. There are a lot of players who have been around the tour for years who haven't had such a good tournament as that, beating four top 20 players back to back. He started out his quarterfinal looking rather tired and lethargic after already expending so much energy this week, losing the first set. He then seemed to get his bearings, though, and soon was hitting winners one after the other with incredible power and accuracy. He also has amazing finesse, however, using a delicate drop shot many times over, to the frustration of his opponents. Add a great serve to that and he has the potential to be the next big thing. Granted, this was a strange week, with the top 8 guys definitely in another place mentally, thinking ahead to next week's London World Tour Finals and obviously not full giving themselves to winning in Paris. I'm sure when Andy Murray ended up surprisingly losing that second set, for example, suddenly the thought of putting a bunch of effort into not only coming back to win that match, but also giving more energy to going further in the tournament suddenly didn't sound so appealing or even wise. However, a lesser opponent wouldn't have had the mental strength to keep fighting through to the end. I think most who follow tennis are wondering who is going to be the next one to step it up and make a name for themselves, winning some of the bigger events. Guys like Raonic, Tomic, Dmitrov, and other young guys who seem to have potential are names that are tossed around, but so far no one has made it big. I'm not saying that Jancowicz is the man, but I think he has not only the weapons in his game, but also seemingly the mental toughness to not be afraid of the bigger opponents. Of course, one tournament doesn't prove anything - it needs to be followed up over and over, so we will see what next year brings for this young guy, about to turn 22. But regardless, the name Jerzy Janowicz has made itself known in the tennis world this week by making it to at least the semifinals of a Masters 1000 event, taking out four top 20 opponents in the process.
P.S. Just a post-script after watching the semis. Wow, wow, wow! This guy has truly been amazing. I thought maybe he would be too tired to pull off another one today. But he held strong and got another top 20 scalp under his belt. I'm truly amazed at what he has been able to do. No matter what happens tomorrow, he has made a name for himself and it will be fun to watch what he is able to do in 2013.