Sven is in the net cord. Praise be to Sven, the Grandest of Slammers. He who bringeth us US Open titles and lucky bounces. He who raineth upon us his most glorious of tennis wisdom. For through him, all slams are grand and all draws are cupcakes. Praise be to Sven. Amen.
And whether you like it or not, so is tennis. What better way to kick off the year with a Fedal final, right?
The final match of 2010 was Fedal, we had the Fedal charity matches, we start 2011 with a Fedal exho final (Fedal bank accounts charity match)… isn’t there anyone else out there who matters?
No doubt commentators will have their panties in a bunch with “a possible preview” this and “the greatest rivalry evar” that, but they do have a point. They’ve won the past 13 of 15 slams dating back to Marat in AO, 2005, and swept the calendar last year.
The good news? The pressure is off everyone else, come AO time. Fed is defending, and Rafa is trying for his “Rafa” slam. Nole will be written off for his drama, Muzz for his choking, and no one will even bother to breathe a word about guys like Sod or even a returning Delpo. Fine by me. Bring it, 2011.
Due to the fact that 1) I didn’t watch a TON of tennis post-USO and 2) we’re all ready to move on to 2011, I’m going to make this a quick one.
The post-USO period is always a rocky, unpredictable time, and that was definitely true of this year’s Asian swing. However, it did produce two of the best 3 set matches on the men’s side, Sod/Llodra Paris semi and Rafa/Muzz WTF semi. Otherwise, things were mostly underwhelming. The top guns generally lost interest, there were plenty of odd upsets, and the YEC and WTF were generally bland despite a couple of fantastic matches. There were some bright spots however. Llodra had an epic run, young Canadian hopeful Milos Raonic appeared on the scene, and Serbia had an epic home Davis Cup victory. What else do we have here…
The Bad: Elena retired. It was the most depressing thing ever. No one saw it coming. All class, that lady. You and your crazy mother shall be missed.
The Ugly:Delpo returned! For… a match. In which he managed to lose to a hobbit who is half his size and twice his age. That was it for the return. It was all a lot of excitement with not much result to back it up. Still, it was nice to see that Delpo is indeed still alive.
The Hilarious: Remember when Ana got an entire game penalty for randomly taking a potty break in the second game of her match? It was pretty amazing. Worth a re-watch.
It would be easy to make fun of this guy… but I was basically doing the exact same thing, but minus the smoking and plus Rafa fist pumping. I even have that same kind of “woo-HOO!” phony cheer.
Easily one of the matches of the year, Nole saving match points against Fed in the US Open? After the general embarrassment that was last year? It was some serious heart that I didn’t think he had in him. Props, good sir.
Dick’s loss was… weird. Especially from where I was sitting (in the middle of a “capture the flag” game and frantically trying to keep up with my phone). He got all flustered by, guess what, a foot fault, after questioning the lineswoman about which foot it was. She unfortunately replied with the wrong foot… which of course isn’t entirely relevant because 1) the call was made and 2) that’s a bit of a scary question. Anyway, Janko played out of his eyeballs and the whole thing was apparently quite the mess.
Vika’s collapse was something no one wants to see, and I’ll save Youtube linking it for that very reason. But if her wooziness against Serena at AO09 was tough to watch, this was about 10 times worse. HYDRATE, GIRL. AND EAT A BANANA.
During all 3 slams, I think it’s safe to say that he was never really in serious trouble and for most of them, was just cruising along and enjoying life. He now has the chance to achieve the “Rafa slam”, RG to AO. Yes, start getting used to it, because you’re going to be hearing about it for a few weeks.
For those who have no idea what tennis pool is, here’s a quick intro. First off, it’s not affiliated with ATP or WTA and is entirely for fun (and there are a few prizes). You have a team of 20 players, 10 ATP, 10 WTA. Each week you are awarded points to your team for the amount of real life ranking points each player on your team gets in real life. Each week you are allowed to swap out 3 ATP and 3 WTA players for new players. The key is that each player costs a certain amount depending on their ranking points and spot in the rankings, and both of your ATP and WTA sides have caps. This means that you have to budget your money (you obviously can’t just pick the top 10) and time (sometimes you might keep a couple players through the weeks leading up to a slam because there are more points to be gained there).
Overall, it’s a great game that serves a variety of purposes. First off, it’s just damn fun. Second, it’s hella fun to compete against friends as well as the broader (and generally huge) world of tennis pool. Third, it gets you really digging through draws in a way you might not other do, specifically for slams. Fourth, it will get you into matches you might not have cared about otherwise, and lastly can get you interested in (or at least keeping an eye on) smaller tournaments, especially later in them.
There’s a lot to be gained, and like I said in an earlier post, it’s a great way to go from being a tennis fan to a full on nerd. That being said, it is a bit of a commitment, but they’re generally pretty good at opening it up early enough that you’ve got the weekend to change over your team. Plus, once your team is set on Sunday for the week, you don’t have to worry about it again until next weekend, and you’re only swapping 6 players a week (other than 4 key spots at ends of “seasons” where you get to re-do your entire team).
Two final things. First, when you sign up, just pick a random team. You’ve got time to adjust it freely until January 2nd, so there’s plenty of time.
Lastly, I’ve got a Mind The Racket club set up for all of us to join into. Check that. The group is now “Twitter Tennis Addicts”. It’s a public group, so just find it and join. And no, you don’t have to be on Twitter to join. Last year we had a great turn out and I’d love to see that again. Being in a club doesn’t really do anything other than create a convenient way of grouping us together and to see how you’re doing against fellow friends/twitterinos, etc. The group is a private group so I don’t have randoms clogging it up, so just drop me a comment/tweet me/e-mail me your username and I’ll add you in, it takes two seconds. You can also do likewise if you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to help.
Thanks! Good luck, and hope to see you in the pool!
Maybe it’s the Wimbledon factor, maybe it’s the fact that so few tournaments are on grass, or maybe it’s the turn around time from clay to grass. But there’s something about the whiplash that is Roland Garros to Wimbledon that seems to bring out the drama. It’s what gets tennis fans drooling over the two epic months of May and June.
In the end, everything was normal. Rafa reclaimed the crown as Berd got caught in the headlights at the end of sets, and Serena cruised to another major title.
The Good: While it might be easy to give the props to Rafa, I’ve got to quote myself and give it up for Berd and Bepa. Both had career years late in their careers. For Thunderbird, it was the culmination of beating Fed in Miami and reaching the final, as well as making the semis of Roland Garros. While the tournament ended rather predictably, Berd’s win over Fed was huge. For Bepa, it marked the beginning of a great summer, which included the final of Montreal and the US Open. Well done peeps.
The Bad:Venus’ loss to unknown Pironkova wasn’t just shocking, it wasn’t even close. I watched some of it later the next day and… yeah. The serve was out, the net was a chore, and the forehand was set to “spray-mode”. A tough pill for Venus’ fans, to say the least.
The Ugly: And the winner of the “Peace Out, Bitches” Award goes to:
To be fair, he was being heckled all match long, blew match points in the third set and didn’t appear to be coming out of the mental hole he had dug himself any time soon. Hell, I had to forgive the guy. Sure, the llama impersonation was a tad bit much, but it’s not like it actually reached it. Hell, it probably would have been appropriate if it did.
The Hilarious: Isnut. Treehut. The Longest Fucking Thing Outside Of The Infinity Of The Universe That I Have Ever Heard Of. Call it what you like. But man, was that long.
There are certain things in people’s lives that we all remember where we were when we saw, or found out. JFK’s death, 9/11, Obama’s inauguration, stuff like that.
For tennis fans, this is one of those moments. Perhaps it’s most special because while we can often remember big matches and big finals, we sit down, watch them, and they’re over. This beast took 3 effing days. It also included hilariously absurd thoughts that rarely enter the brains of tennis fans. 5 overtimes? 20 innings? To the left, please.
For me, this match had something at stake. I truly believed that Tree could have some excellent success on grass (still do) and had him on my tennis pool team. I put him as the 12th seed in my fake rankings. At work, I was getting updates on it from Ana. Come the fifth set, I was checking my phone as often as possible. Eventually I got a message from Ana, I’m not sure at what point, but on the first day, that just simply said “BRODIE, THEY’RE STILL GOING”. The hilarity of it really hit home when I told my co-workers, three days later “remember that tennis match I told you about yesterday? That had to be postponed the day before that? Yeah, it’s still going”. They thought I was screwing with them.
The cherry on top, however, was Tree’s sportsmanship, and the tournament’s celebration and ceremony… including, of course, umpire king Mo.
We came in with questions, we left with answers. Rafa’s clay season came to an unfortunate end in 2009 at the hands of Sod, and there were a lot of questions going into the 2010 clay season, if you remember. He pulled out of AO with the knee, and fell to Ljubs in IW and Dick in Miami. Would Rafa be healthy and ready to take on the challenge?
Take a peak peek (yay English). Absurd. No seriously, look again. 51 sets won, 2 sets lost. None at Roland Garros. He lost only 14 games at Monte Carlo and became the first player to win any tournament six times straight. King of Clay indeed.
Things were weird for the ladies. With an injured Dinara and a struggling Kuz, there were a lot of points handed out to a lot of random people. Specifically? MJMS in Rome and Rezai in Madrid.
But the real treat was Franny. She had some of the pictures of the year from that second set tiebreak and looked like a giddy, smiling kid on crack during the trophy ceremony. It was also a bit of a coming out party for Slammin’ Sammy, who took out Justine, Serena and JJ all in succession before just falling a tad short. It was a bit like the wild west, but it was bloody fun.
The Good: OK, good is an understatement (srsly, the final against Sod took 2:18? Yikes). But do you remember anything from the men’s clay season other than Rafa? Or anything else worth remembering? Ernie maybe? Everything was comin’ up Rafa, and he was an absolute tank.
The Bad: Remember this? Lulz.
The Ugly: It was all coming together so well. Franny, Sam, and JJ in her way. No Serena, no Russians in the way between Elena and her elusive slam. After a hard fought first set, she dropped it in a tiebreak to Franny. It soon became clear she was too injured to continue playing and retired from the match in a heap of tears. It was the last straw on a great career, and I think we can all agree: it fucking sucked.
The Hilarious: What does it take to win a point against Rafa on clay? Sometimes, apparently everything.
Srsly. Fergasm used everything in the books, forehand, backhand, slice, drop shot, lob, smash… and it still only barely did it. Fer went on to win Barcelona a couple weeks later over Sod, so it all turned out ok anyway.
While I admit that it is a bit weird looking back to a period which I am now getting wicked excited over… January is always an exciting time, no? A fresh start, a clean slate, use whatever cliche you want. Typically players are rested, healthy, and pumped to get at it.
In hindsight, AO10 was a bit underwhelming from a purely selfish, fan point of view when compared to the other slams of last year. There was a ton of hype over the USO winners, Kim and Delpo, but both crashed out pretty early. Rafa was too hurt to defend his title. At the end of the tournament, Muzz fell to a dominant Fed (again) and comeback queen Justine fell to a confident Serena. While it seems so obvious now, it was these types of stories that people weren’t really talking about at the time.
The Good: I’m not a Justine fan, but I’ll never forget one shot she made in Brisbane. The camera jumped down to court level behind JuJu as she crept in towards the line on a second serve. She took it off the bounce instantly with a quick and effortless wrist flick that sent the ball for an inside-out, wickedly angled winner. My jaw hit the floor. Much can be said about a weak WTA… whatever. You can’t teach that. Justine’s January run was one impressive feat.
The Bad: Remember Kim’s crap loss to Nads? I don’t. Because it was like waking up after a hard night and having no idea where you are. That and I didn’t actually watch it. Sob. I was all aboard the Kim train and knew there had to be someone to stop Serena or Justine and that really busted my balls.
The Ugly: In what was slowly starting to shape into an epic meeting between Rafa and Muzz, ye old rusty knee made his appearance and Rafa nation went psycho. 2009 was tough, but starting off 2010 by not being able to defend the first slam title because of the knees? Bitch please. Mass hysteria ensued. “Rafa will never win a ton of slams because of his health/knees/style of play” “will the King of Clay get a chance to sit atop his throne?” “can these questions get more moronic?” It was a scary time and there were some pretty serious questions about Rafa’s health and chance at a consistent season. Yeah, it turned out ok, but more on that later.
The Hiarious: Little did I know that the early year would feature my most favourite player/umpire interaction. Roddick was aced by, if memory serves correctly, Berdych in Brisbane where they don’t have hawkeye. Dick walked up to the line, found a mark, and pointed at it, frowning. “It’s out… can you see the mark?” “Yes.” “So you can see that it’s out?” “Yes.” “Are you gonna get down and look at it?” “No.” “So you’re telling me that you can see the mark, and can see that it’s out, but you’re not gonna overrule it?” “No.” “This is the most ridic-”
At which point he turned and walked away.
The culprit? Cedric Diggory… er, Steve Ullrich. It was quintessential Dick. He had a bit of a case, it was a ridiculous argument, and while he was pissed, he sucked it up and stormed back to the line to take another serve. Seriously though Brisbane, get some Hawkeye.
I just want to take the time to thank you all for reading this year. School has kind of given me the huge smack in the face post-USO, but for most of the year, I was keeping on top of things and it was a fantastic year. I feel bad spoiling some of the momentum I felt I was gaining from the summer, but so it goes. This year we got more new readers than ever, a ton of new Twitter followers, and most importantly a ton of positive feedback. So thanks. I plan on hitting the ground running in January and teaming up with Ana during the Australian Open for some badass, wall to wall coverage. MTR will be back as strong as ever, don’t worry.
In the meantime, I’m going to be getting a whole bunch of 2010 wrap-up posts up, including 5 in summary of the year with a fun twist. On top of that, I’ll have “The Top 10 Matches I Saw This Year”, a “Buy, Sell” segment for the ATP and WTA each, and then hopefully some fun 2011 preview stuff.
In the meantime, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the final Tennis Pool standings!
1 AnaTennisGirl (managed by Ana) 87208
2 FedSucks (managed by Meghan) 84477
3 RagingBitch (managed by Jills) 81483
4 meretricula (managed by V) 79676
5 Atiras (managed by Sarah) 76302
6 eastcoast (managed by Renee) 74708
7 Parkupdates (managed by Parker) 71829
8 downtwo22 (managed by Joe) 71817
9 van£ss (managed by vanessa) 69603
10 rileysteam (managed by Neil) 68896
I’ve got to admit that I stopped updating after the USO, but that’s no excuse. Huge shoutouts to MTR’s very own contributor Ana, and Meghan. Meghan was on top almost the entire year, and just trailed off during the Asian swing. The two of them grabbed us #5 and #15 in the overall standings (out of 1740 competitors). No big deal.
We ended up with an awesome 51 member group in tennis pool and I plan on starting up one for 2011 once they’ve got everything set up for the next season. If you’re a big tennis fan looking to ascend to nerd status, a nerd looking for something to get you excited about smaller tournaments, or are just looking for some good fun, tennis pool is for you. While at times it was stressful (the amount of direct messages Ana and I sent each other over this damn game was a bit insane…) it’s super fun and gets you that much more in the game, specifically with matches you sometimes might not care about, or smaller tournaments you might not care about. You only get 3 switches a year, and you can get pretty attached to your team.
If you’re interested in signing up for Tennis Pool next year and have no idea what it’s about, drop me a comment. Again, once the actual site is updated to start picking 2011 teams, I’ll create a post here and spread the word on Twitter to join the 2011 MTR group. Good job people! Let’s get down to this.