While New York loves its underdogs, she loves Roger Federer even more

Posted: September 3, 2013 in Tennis
Tags: , ,

My very 1st time being in the US at the time of the US Open. Given that I had just missed being in London for Wimbledon a couple of years back, this US Open was one I definitely wanted to catch. Despite ticket prices seem to be going up the way the rupee was going up against the dollar, tickets for both the morning and evening sessions were procured. A Nadal match in the morning and a Federer match in the evening. (and preceded and followed by a host of other matches, but who really paid attention to that (just kidding, you do pay attention when tickets prices can equal the average size of a Congress scam)) (I do love nested parenthesis)

Arthur Ashe Stadium

Arthur Ashe Stadium

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An American Underdog

The first match of the day pitted the former No.1 (and immensely cute) Ana Ivanovic against American Christina McHale. Ivanovic as the seeded player was naturally the favorite. However, the crowd support for the local girl was significant and it also helped that she was up a set and a break ahead in the 2nd before the enormity of the situation caught up to her following which she promptly dissolved in a flurry of errors to concede the 2nd. That marked the beginning of the end and Ivanovic, to her credit raised her game to clinch the 3rd and the game

Take That......

Take That……

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Thwack!!!!!

That was the sound that was produced in the 1st game of the Nadal-Dodig encounter when Dodig’s serve crashed against the boards. The previous game had lulled one into familiarity which was dispelled by the sheer pace and power that being generated by the current duo on court. Limbs flailing, wrists cocking before unleashing the next rocket, this was a slap in the face designed to wake you up. But Dodig’s power, it was very clear where the game was heading. How does one defeat a player like Nadal who beats you at your own game? He chases down every ball and hits them not only harder but with much more revs. The ball loops, dips and kicks up from even a hard court surface. The writing was very clear on the wall and one particular point illustrated it better than anything. A fantastic Dodig serve had Rafa seemingly caught out of position and Dodig followed up with a foray to the net. But Rafa had bent low and from a seemingly impossible position, conjured up a passing shot that caused Dodig to stumble and reach out for a ball that was wickedly low and just never there

That Rafa shoulder-wrenchy top-spinny forehand

That Rafa shoulder-wrenchy top-spinny forehand

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A Tale of Two No.8s

A pair of similar matches unfolded during the day. Both matches featured the current No.8 seeds (in Mens and Womens section), Richard Gasquet and Caroline Wozniacki. Both are touch players, not necessarily the power hitters. Across the net, were players who were not hitting but bludgeoning the ball, in Tursunov and Giorgi. That’s however where the similarity ended. Gasquet was able to weather the Tursunov storm and take the match to the big hitting Russian with his elegantly beautiful backhand, often skimming the ball over the net and skidding it, forcing Tursunov to bend low while returning, robbing him of the stable base from which he could launch his rockets. Wozniacki meanwhile struggled to match up to Giorgi’s pace and depth in her shots. Giorgi was hell bent on the hitting as hard and as deep as possible leading to as many winners as unforced errors. Tursunov could not see the match to the end as he abruptly retired but Giorgi, with the vast majority of the Arthur Ashe behind her celebrated an absolutely famous victory

The Tursunov Rocket - More miss than hit

The Tursunov Rocket – More miss than hit

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Fleeting magic to last for a lifetime

Nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare one for the reception that Roger Federer gets even when he is not on court. The reception when his name is called out or when he appears on the screen before his arrival on the court is simply stupendous. The reception is more than what McHale got when she seemed like winning over Ivanovic, more than what Giorgi got for her upset of Wozniacki and even more than what Rafa got when he walked in or when he won (Make no mistake, the crowd did love Rafa, punctuating every point of his with cries of “Vamos Rafa”). The moment Roger walked into the court, ten thousand flash lights go on all at once and the sound level would lift the roof of Arthur Ashe (if it had a roof). All at once, Roger looks like he owns and belongs on this stage. His opponent, a hapless Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino, was clearly overawed to just be sharing the same court.

You know what they say about saving the best for the last. This was clearly the case here. Right throughout the day, tennis seemed to be a battle. Every point was fought for, sweated for and struggled for before it could be claimed. One needed to expend sweat by the bucketful (make no mistake, it was a hot day) before one could claim victory. All of that was swept away in the magic that was wrought on center stage by Federer. Waving his racquet like a wand, he was a magician who could sweep away the world’s troubles. Federer made tennis look easy. Rasping forehand winners, devastatingly aching backhand slices, and pin-point services in a 3 set demolition that was but fleeting. The swift evisceration of an opponent in a rather skillful manner.

The Fed-Express Arrives....

The Fed-Express Arrives….

Poetry in Motion

Poetry in Motion

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A thing of beauty is a joy forever

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

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It actually does bring up a question, would you rather be defeated by a player against whom no matter what you try, you just cant get through or be defeated by a player who does not seem to let you try at all? Would you rather be bludgeoned or be skillfully skewered using a rapier?

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PS: While Arthur Ashe provides the marquee names, unless you are prepared to pay a bomb, you are quite far away from the action. For the real experience, visit some of the side courts. You watch the action literally beside the player and that’s when you get a sense of the pace of the game

PPS: One day, that left arm of Rafa is going to wrench itself out of its socket and slap him in the face. That’s the amount of effort he expends when he goes for his all or nothing forehand

PPPS: Even as I write this post, Federer plays an appallingly bad match to lose in straight sets to Robredo. The magic looks even more fleeting, even more ephemeral.

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