How I think the tennis season went (updated again, because I thought of something else)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

But before that. I get proven wrong again in this stupid masters cup thing. Surprising, isn't it? Okay so not really. Djokovic won which was surprising. I didn't think he would come out and do so well to win 6-1, 7-5 (hmm, I thought the finals were best of five sets?). Well, he won and I'm going to cry now because even although I wanted him to win, he's now within TEN points of displacing Federer as no 2. Of course this means that Federer has to go and win the Australian open for sure now *nods*

But anyway... now the season has technically ended I can ramble about it. I’m not even going to talk about the best player on the tour. We all know who he is and what he’s done this year so I’m just going to move on….

note: seeing as I only saw about half of the season, I only get to ramble about half of it, therefore probably missing out on a lot of good stuff from earlier on. Sue me.

Best shot - okay this was really hard.... I've seen a lot of shots that were just downright amazing. Until the other day the ATP thing had a list of plays of the year that you could view and vote on. Apparently now that the voting is over, they're gone, but you can stil find 'em on youtube. Of the nine that they had I liked 1) Federer where he hits a winner while basically running in the opposite direction (he was running towards the back of the court and somehow still managed to hit the ball over the net). 2) Djokovic getting into an extended rally with Nadal and dropping his racquet before picking it up and actually hitting a winner two shots later (and he even had time to look around for his raquet after he dropped it) 3) Nadal making this unbelievable run across the court to hit a winner against Davydenko (if I was Davydenko I would be screaming because there should have been no way that Nadal should have hit that back). But my favorite would be one that they didn't have. It was when Federer was playing Djokovic at the US Open. Djokovic came to the net and smashed the ball. Game over, you would think. But he didn't hit it hard enough and Federer managed to hit it back and Djokovic just stands put and watches the ball fly past him and into the back of the court. Youtube it. I'll save you the hassle of of looking. Click <here>. It's definitely the best shot. Okay, so I'm just saying that 'cause I saw it live and I was in complete awe at the time. And it's Federer and I've come to the conclusion that I'm definitely a Federer fan right now.... It's still the best shot though =p

Best match - Obviously that goes to the Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. It was only the third live tennis match that I had ever seen and it got me permantely hooked on tennis. It was absolutely amazing (okay, so the rain delay breaks were beyond annoying but what can I say?). I just wish I had known more about tennis when I watched it.

Most lopsided final with a decent amount of people watching it - by all accounts that would have to be Federer's loss to Nadal at the French Open. I may not have seen it, but the surely losing 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 isn't so cool from Roger's point of view? Or Nadal's either. I mean, yeah, you won and winning's great, but surely the finals are supposed to be a little less...lopsided? Especially when you consider who's playing... I mean c'mon, it's Federer and Nadal!!! We're not talking about Federer vs. Murray here...

...or are we? Most anti-climatic final with a decent amount of people watching it- That would be the US open. After all the talk of Murray doing so well against Nadal and Federer being Federer and the four time defending champion and the whole "is the year that Federer finally gets beaten?" thing there was a lot of hype. Unfortunately the final failed to live up to the hype. Murray was clearly not up to top form after taking two days to beat Nadal and the result was a straight set mauling by Federer in less than 2 hours (the third set in particular was a very one-sided event). I'm not complaining though. I was very happy for Federer. At least I didn't have to go nuts like I did during Wimbledon. And I got to eat dinner at a decent hour. All in all, while it was very anti-climatic, it was nice from my point of view.

Most anti-climatic tournament - The Tennis Masters Cup. Do we really need this tournament? I can't speak for the players, but as a spectator, I much prefer the Grand Slams. Winning a Grand Slam seems like a much bigger deal than winning this thing at the end of the year. The top eight are in theory supposed to be in the finals but can we honestly say that the top eight played like the top eight? First let's deal with the theory bit. With Nadal pulling out of the tournament he got replaced with Gilles Simon. Federer tried to play through injuries but that clearly wasn't a good idea. Djokovic hadn't played his best tennis since May and wasn't looking too good early on. As I said, I'm completely surprised that he won it. After a strong start Murray just fell apart, which isn't so cool considering how well he's been doing all summer. Davydenko quietly went through to the finals only to get beaten pretty badly by Djokovic at the end. Roddick pulled out mid-way because of injuries, which just further made things dull. There is no way that Stepenak would be considered at this point someone who should have been in the top eight. Now, I know they had trouble getting other people who were ranked higher to be an alternate, but that just further proves my point. The players themselves don't even find it worth it to go in as an alternate. Tsonga fell a bit flat which was disappointing because he's done pretty well at the very end of the season. Simon did well but he shouldn't have been there. And del Potro was probably thinking about the Davis Cup. Being the end of the year, everyone's injured and/or exhausted. And when you're injured/exhausted you're not going to play your best tennis. I don't know what would make the event more interesting and special - no one will doubt that, while Djokovic probably deserved to win, he's not the best player on the tour right now- but something should be done.

Tournament with the most upsets - Wimbledon. Okay, so Nadal and Federer went to the finals in spectacular fashion but where were the other top players? Not on the courts that’s for sure. Oh well. At least Safin got to provide something interesting in the semis *g*

Which reminds me... The worst challenge ever - goes to Marat Safin in the semis of Wimbledon. Federer serves, Safin hits the net and promptly gets upset and challenges. Now, even in the very fuzzy and tinty screen on youtube, *I* can tell that the ball was in. And what was the result of the challenge? It was in. By a lot. Even Federer thought it was funny. Safin didn't even look upset that he lost the challenge. He knew it was in. Why he would want to waste the challenge is beyond me.

Top three things you shouldn't do during a tournament
- 1) don't get the hated by the home crowd. It's not pretty and it makes you look really bad. Yes, I'm looking at you Novak. 2) break stuff because you're upset. Yes, Marat Safin, we know you have a temper, but is it necessary to take a swat at the chairs after you lost to Federer? 3) swear at the umpire guy. Yeah, you may be upset, but c'mon, the guy is just trying to do his job. Why is Roddick coming to mind right about now?

Worst match - After thinking this over for a while, I have to say the semi-finals of the Olympics between Nadal and Djokovic. I've seen a lot of matches were one player clearly has a bad match but I'm choosing this one because both players were awful. The match lasted 2 hours and 10 mins and was a best of three sets. Together, Nadal and Djokovic had 12 aces, 31 winners, 6 double faults, 11 break points, 6 actual breaks of serve, and just under a 100 unforced errors (yes, I dug up the stats!). It was a mess. Granted, it was a fun mess. But a mess nonetheless.

Most surprising match – Gilles Muller, a qualifier, beating Davydenko in the fourth round of the US Open. I’m not sure if the fact that Muller is from Luxembourg or the fact that he was only the second qualifier ever to reach the US Open quarter finals was more surprising. There was something on the website of the US open that said "top 50 expected and unexpected things" or something like that. And in the list under expected things was "a multi-lingual guy from a tiny European country charges through the draw." Unexpected "the guy was from Luxembourg." I thought it was really funny for no other reason than I'm very easily amused. You would instantly asume that they're talking about Federer but nope. It's Muller! Yeah, I'm easily amused. Sue me.

Most disappointing match - probably Federer's loss to James Blake at the Olympics in the quarter finals. The Olympics don't come around often and gold medal in singles is one of only a few things that Federer doesn't have.

Most frustrating match - Well, I've seen a lot over the summer, but I would have to say Federer's win over Igor Andreev in the fourth round of the US open. I don't pretend to know what's going on in Federer's brain but he just came out really flat against Andreev who he should have beaten in straight sets. But no. It got extended to five very agonizing sets mainly due to Federer's errors (although to his credit, Andreev was playing very well).

Saddest way to lose a match - Djokovic's semi-final loss to Nadal at the Olympics. He smashed the ball, Nadal ran off the court and hit it back and then Djokovic smashes it again and misses the court entirely. He has a whole open court to hit but instead he hits it towards Nadal and out. Poor Novak!

Weirdest victory celebration - Federer winning the gold medal in doubles with Wawrinka. He practically went insane. He was jumping around all over the place and ended up rolling around on the court as well. Very weird on its own and when you consider that it's *Federer*... then it's beyond weird.

The player who everyone should watch more - Marin Čilić. Another tall guy who has plenty of potential. 'nuff said. Besides, I like his name. What do you mean we don't watch people because they have nice names? What I have been watching Nadal for then? Oh right.... never mind...

Most frustrating player - I'm sure no one will argue that David Nalbandian is still the most frustrating player on the tour. When he plays well he's absolutely brilliant and he beats the top three players in the same tournament. When he doesn't play well he gets beaten by people like Canada's top ranked male player who is ranked 111 in the world. While it's nice to see a player who treats tennis the way it's supposed to be (as a game), it's still really frustrating to watch him sometimes. Thankfully I'm not Argentinean. And thankfully they have del Potro.

Speaking of which... the most improved player over the summer has to be del Potro. It's easy to say Murray, but I think there wasn't too much doubt that Murray was very capable of being good and it was only a matter of time before he started living up to that expectation. del Potro on the other hand, has gone from being ranked 65 at the beginning of July to finishing the year as 8th. To get there he had won 23 consecutive matches (which is the second longest winning streak of this year behind a certain Spanish guy named Nadal). That's definitely got to count for something, no?

The player with the most unpronounceable name (aka a mini lesson in how to pronounce Serbian and Croatian names)- Actually, this would be a tie between Djokovic and Cilic (I wonder if it's a coincidence that they're from Serbia and Croatia?). Djokovic, because no one (including Djokovic himself) can agree on how the first "o" is pronounced. It's either an "oh" or an "awh". Someone should ask Djokovic's parents instead of the guy who hits himself on the head with his tennis racquet and has probably suffered some form of brain damage. Or we could do what I've been suggesting and just call him Novak and be done with it. So much simpler and easier to type, no?

Anyway, moving on...Cilic is actually incredibly straight forward but no one can say it because they don't try. The problem is there's supposed to be a little doodad on the top of the Cs which indicate how to pronounce them. But being the silly people that we are over here we don't put them in. If we did then Djokovic's name would be like this Đoković and Cilic's would be like this Čilić (let's just pretend that Serbia uses the Latin alphabet more than the Cyrillic when in fact it's the opposite). And when you see that little thing on top of Čilić's name you know that it's pronounced something like "chee-lee-ch". The first C is like a CH sound. It's not like an S! You just have to TRY to say it right. Somehow we all get Ančić's name right (I never ever hear anyone say "An-si-ch" but then again, when was the last time I saw the poor dude play?) without the little doodads but we never get Čilić's name right. Poor Marin!

Most annoying moment of the US open - when the announcers got bored of talking about tennis and started talking about golf. It wasn't like they were even talking about anything important about golf. They were talking about how THEY liked to play golf and how they hadn't been able to as much lately. Hello? We're here to watch tennis, not golf.... *dies*

Best at interviews - Roddick. Hands down. He has always has something amusing to say though you usually miss some of it because you can't tell just how serious he's being. If you could rank people by how they gave interviews then Roddick would be no 1 for sure.

The player that you really wished would be interviewed in his own language - Nadal. He sounds so much better in Spanish! No more garbled and mumbled English for Nadal. Interview him in Spanish, darnit! At least he's better than Pavel Datsyuk from the Detroit Red Wings. Man, I had no idea that guy was even speaking in English at first...

Two things about Nadal- 1) Does he really have to be that noisy when he plays? 2) why does he have to bite everything he wins? It’s bad for your teeth.

The silliest surface to play on - Carpet. I mean c'mon.... carpet??? It's such a silly surface. And no one is even good on it. Except for maybe Federer. And Nalbandian. Although see the point above on why Nalbandian only half counts here. I wonder if they have to vacuum the carpet?

Things to watch for next year – 1) Murray, Murray, Murray. And Federer. Djokovic may be within two points of being no 2 but unless he can start winning tournaments, Murray will overtake him. Of course I"m hoping that Roger stays as no 2 at the very least and Murray sort of crashes, but I'm probably not going to get my way on that. 2) It should be interesting to see how Federer does this year after having - by his standards - a crappy year plagued with mono and injuries. And let’s not forget that he’s only two Grand Slams away from beating Sampras’ record of 14. 3) The Australian open should be very interesting also, with four people very capable of taking the title. 4) For the first time in a while the top four could become very close in points....5) Oh and be sure to watch Nadal too. Especially during the clay season. Say "byebye" to everyone *G*


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