Sunday, June 2, 2013

30-somethings do it again

The last couple days at the French Open have been amazing for the 30-somethings.  Whoever started the phrase "20 is the new 30" sure knew what they were talking about.  Let's start with the ageless Tommy Haas and his gutsy win against the serving machine John Isner.  Anyone who was watching the tail end of the 4th set was glued to their TV/computer, I can tell you that for sure.  When Tommy failed to convert any of the 12 match points he had on Isner's serve (through hardly any fault of his own, mind you), lost the set and then was down a break in the 5th set, who couldn't be thinking it had just been too much for the 35-year-old, who had already had to play his rain delayed previous round the day before.  But that wasn't taking into account that Tommy still desperately wanted to win this match.  So he continued to fight through the booming Isner serves, which despite the fact that big John was practically dead on his feet after his previous 5 set match the day before, continued to come at the same fearsome speed.  He finally got his opportunity to get back on serve but knew he would have to break Isner again, since there are no tiebreaks in the 5th set at Roland Garros.  And finally at 8-all he got his chance, with John pretty much done in.  Haas still  had to serve it out, but he did that without drama and earned an incredible victory to take this much deserving fighter into the 4th round.

Not to be outdone, another 30-something Tommy, 31-year-old Tommy Robredo to be exact, pulled out not just one but three incredible wins.  Coming back from two sets down is always going to be an amazing feat that gets attention, but how about doing it three times in a row?  That is exactly what this comeback "kid" has done this week.  Surely he must be getting exhausted by now, but I'm sure the exhilaration of coming back over and over again has to be the adrenaline that is pulling him through.  Not only that, but just a year ago Robredo was ranked, believe it or not, 471 after being out for injuries.  Who would have believed he would have the gumption to fight through those odds.  Yet here he is now into the quarterfinals of a major, beating choker Nicholas Almagro, who surely should have won this match.  The tears he shed at the end of the match showed how much it all means to him.

And the match that not only had me on the edge of my seat like the Haas match, but also with major heart attack potential was that of Roger Federer against Gilles Simon.  After completely cruising through the first set I totally thought this was going to be another stressless match.  However, a fall in the second set, which could have been disastrous on his ankle, was saved as Roger caught himself and fell onto his hands and knees.  However, though he appeared to be ok physically, he definitely wasn't the same player for the next set-and-a-half, getting broken the same game, losing the set, and going on to win only two games in the next set.  Surely something was wrong.  However, all of a sudden in the fourth set something came alive once again.  He starting hitting some of his beauty shots again, moving around the court better, shouting some come ons, and with an awesome grunting forehand broke and went on to win the set.  The fifth set was again more dominant by Federer.  Though he had some trouble serving it out, he eventually did to gain his 900th win and his 36th consecutive major quarterfinal.  It was a stressful match for his fans, and I'm sure for him too, but sometimes being tested can be a good thing.  I'm hoping that is the case, as his next opponent, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, has beaten him in a major quarterfinal before.  Let's hope this severe test by Tsonga's countryman will be enough to pull Roger through to give him a chance at his 2nd FO title.  As he said himself regarding Tsonga:  "I know he can beat me, and he knows he can beat me.  But I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen."  Go Roger!

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