Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fed's still got it.

It is the end of the 2nd set. And what a set that was. I promised myself I will blog if Fed wins. I know the match isn't over yet, but I can't help myself. Lets be honest, Fed hasn't played inspiring tennis a lot this year. A set like this just proves everyone wrong. He's still got all the things that made me fall in love with his game. Serve, volley, drop, running across the court, placement and the list goes on.
Just like so many others, I started loving tennis after playing it myself. Sampras -> Roddick -> Federer.

He is the oldest man in the eight man field and he is playing the youngest.

Fed was broken and down 1-3 in the set. He managed to break back to 3-3 and then went on to win the tie breaker in such emphatic fashion, you wouldn't believe its the guy who lost his first service game of the match!

I admit I have been watching more of Federer, after college. Partly because there is more free time around midnight and because of a better internet connection. In college, I had to restrict myself to Grand Slam radio and IBM Slamtracker. Believe me, there is still charm in that. It transports you to 1990. You can only hear the shoes skidding off the court, the balls bouncing on the ground and the racket and the grunts. ATP competitions were just about checking the result of the match. But now, I am setting alarms for 7.30PM to stream matches.

In the 2nd set, he didnt get a single backhand wrong. His service games lasted 2 minutes on average (one lasted a mere 60 seconds), compared to DelPo's hard fought 4 minutes. He won almost all the points at the net, and at one point made DelPo almost slam his racket on the ground.

Now, he's in the 3rd set. Broken already. Just like the previous 2 sets. But what's striking about this match is that it looks like Fed is playing to win, he's hitting winners and as a result, hitting errors too. DelPo is hanging in there, and picking up where Fed is dropping concentration. If DelPo wins this, it'd not be on his winners. It'd be on Fed's momentary blips.

Fed is now 0-3 down in the 3rd set. DelPo has broken him yet again and Fed is rattled. The blip has returned.

While in the 2nd set, Fed was on song and Potro was rattled. In the break, I took this snapshot.

Can you feel the steely resolve in Fed's eyes? Champions are so, not because they don't face difficult situations thanks to their awesome gameplay, but because of their innate ability to dig deep to lift themselves up. Djoko does this, almost every time.

Fed wins another service game 40-0. Set is still 1-3 and chances are bleak.

Before the match, Fed said he was happy he has defeated two Top 10 players recently. Gasquet in ATP World Tour and DelPo in Paris. Yup, very important, considering he has been losing to players ranked around 100. Is Fed's fan following decreasing? May be, I don't know and frankly, I don't care. Following Federer is simple. Almost like following Man United. He is all over the papers, magazines, internet and all the commentators love him. His matches draw the most crazy of crowds and if anyone knows about Tennis, even a bit, he/she knows about Federer. No wonder he won the Sportsmanship and Fan's Favourite awards AGAIN.

Fed just won a 27 shot rally to bring up break point! *falls to the ground in prayer* Another one to get advantage and closes it! 2-3 baby! :D

This is just like the 2nd set. Federer hasn't lost it yet. DelPo is still playing the same game he has been playing since the beginning. No versatility at the net, no amazing serves and a bit of frustration always around the corner. I'm a fanatic and I will wish the most amazing things for Federer. He might just win this. And it will probably the best match of the year, considering the pressure. Better than the one against DelPo in Paris last weekend. Better than the win against Tommy Haas  at Halle.
He goes on to complete it to 3-3 after a tough deuce, which saw him hit the three consecutive backhands, arguably the best of the match.

Ha! That was a superb rally. DelPo hits a tweener above Fed's head and Fed is forced to turn around, run to the corner and return with no eyes on the court. He manages to, and wins the rally later. This is Youtube material.

It is now 5-5. Tiebreaker? Not a fan, the nerve of loosing with just a few err points gets to me.

Fed has broken and will serve for the set and match! You can feel the power. The hunger in Fed to win against DelPo and go into the semis, to win one last tournament of 2013 and to disprove the naysayers, who have written him off. Laver says he is the best. Pat Cash disagrees. We will never know who is the greatest player. But the most loved, the most gracious, the most charismatic, the most versatile? No doubts about that.

Potro has break point now. Fed needs to close this match out at deuce. DelPo has his footing wrong and movement locked. The crowd isn't helping either. In fact, rarely, do you see the crowd in a Fed match cheering louder for the opponent. Even if its Nadal or Djoko. No home advantage for any player is louder than the cheer for Fed, any where in the world.

I have been troubled, much by Tikona's pathetic internet and the portuguese commentary. But, its all worth it. The best player has won. Faith has been restored. And Fed's still got it.

Ace. Game. Set. Match. Roger Federer.

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