Archive for the ‘Fergasm’ Category

The Long Haul

Posted by Brodie under: Australian Open, Fergasm, Nole, Rafa

31 Jan 2012

It was bound to happen eventually.

Novak Djokovic not only turned the tennis world on its head last year as he won three of four majors, he turned the seedings we’ve become so accustomed to upside down. Regardless, it was the same old as Federer continued to draw Djokovic and Nadal drew Murray. Nadal/Federer could be a possible semifinal, however being the second and third seeds, and it was exactly that for the first time in ages.

It’s been said so many times in tennis circles it’s become a cliche. The left handed, physical, unconventional, clay master Spaniard. The right handed, smooth, elegant, gentleman of Wimbledon Swiss. We’ve heard it all. Hell, books have been written on it. Yet, late in the first set, I believe we all realized once again how palpable those differences are, and indeed how special this rivalry continues to be.

It is the type of extreme difference nigh on impossible to achieve let alone see in team sports. It’s also such an extreme difference rarely accompanied by such greatness and regularity in tennis.
It may have been the perfect stage. With Djokovic now a slight step above all, Nadal and Federer were allowed to fight among themselves and show off just how relevant not just their rivalry is, but how relevant and close they remain.
In reality, this match was an audition. A reminder of perhaps the greatest rivalry tennis has ever seen. Yet it was not the final, it was a semifinal. The old rivalry versus the new. And so it was fitting that once again Rafa was dragged around court by the master, but outlasted him and eventually outplayed him quite handily.

Cometh Brutality

Due to Federer and Nadal’s large chasm in styles and approaches, their matches turn into wildly entertaining cat-and-mouse affairs that are largely based around trying to hit the ball to the other’s backhand. Once that happens, one uses lazer like precision, the other relentless physicality, to push the opposing player around the court and win the point. This is all wonderful for Nadal, and has been for years. Nadal’s wildly unconvential matches up perfectly against Federer’s convential, albeit effortless and precise, style.
But what if Nadal were to meet his match? A player who’s game matches up in the exact perfect way to tear down the war machine that is Rafa. You know where I’m going with this. Of course, Rafa has lost many matches over the past several years. But when pre-2011-Nadal was healthy and played his best, he simply did not lose.

It has to be noted, that Nadal met his match, a player playing at the top of his ability, and a player with the exact type of game to tear the Spaniard’s down. And it was’t Novak Djokovic.

Fernando Verdasco pushed Nadal to the absolute limit in 2009 and foreshadowed the type of play that could defeat Nadal. Verdasco and Djokovic aren’t the same player, but there are similarities. First off, Verdasco is left handed, Djokovic is right handed. However, Verdasco’s forehand is incredibly flat, (on that day) reliable, and able to expose Nadal’s backhand by firing cross court from any spot on the court. This is all true of Djokovic’s backhand. Much like Verdasco’s forehand and left-handededness “cancelled out” Rafa’s largest weapon, his forehand, it also dismantled his reliable approach to point construction. Nadal is finding the exact same difficulties in this area due to Novak’s backhand.

Breaking It Down and Breaking Down

The Australian Open final will be remembered for what is now the longest major final ever played. This largely implies that the match was incredibly close to have dragged on for so long (after the epic Isner-Mahut, it is difficult not to jump to this conclusion). In reality it should be remembered for not being close at all.
After winning the first set 7-5, Djokovic dominated what was a series of pretty junky tennis, winning the next two sets 6-4 and 6-2. In reality, he should have wrapped it up in four. It is almost as if these two are resigned to the fact that they’re in it for the long haul, and it is going to be gruelling, regardless of the scoreline.

Now would be the time to throw in the old cliched tennis to boxing analogy. Sure, it is a nice one. Both are individual sports, both involve breaks between periods of action, and it makes tennis look pretty damn good. The difference is, despite being punched in the head repeatedly, boxing matches don’t take six hours. If Nadal/Federer is a fencing match, Nadal/Djokovic is a Medieval bloodbath with battle axes. If Nadal/Federer is judo, Nadal/Djokovic is the UFC.

The two of them pushed the level of physicality in the US Open final to a point rarely seen. Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Both players move so well and play such good defense, they rely purely on instinct at the end of long points (and eventually, long matches). In the end, this is what makes the difference. Djokovic’s muscle memory, right now, is at an insane level. The smoothness and accuracy he was finding off both wings late in the match was incredible. The footwork wasn’t there, but he was still able to just his upper body strength to move the ball and keep the backhand flat.
For Nadal, it is not quite the same. The most obvious point is his missed backhand passing shot at 4-2, 30-15. Despite Nadal’s efforts to work on his backhand, and it has improved mightily over the past couple of years, old habits die hard. The power goes, and so does some of the accuracy and craftmanship. It becomes a “get me over the net” shot. Maybe it’s because Nadal is a natural right hander, but plays lefty? I’m not sure.

This makes life incredibly difficult for Nadal. Dictating points from the forehand is not as easy, as it is cancelled out by Djokovic’s backhand. To make matters worse, Nadal’s own backhand tends to fail him in long matches whereas the fitness and muscle memory of Djokovic’s largest weapon continues to tick and give him a slight upper hand.

Losing the Battle, Winning the War

Nadal and Federer’s rivalry has long been talked about, analyzed, and cliche’d into oblivion. It’s one of the greatest rivalries sport has ever seen. But what a treat to have, with an outgoing Federer, a new rivalry for the ages. The reasons for one man’s success and the other man’s failure are only now beginning to simmer in the minds of hardcore tennis fans. This rivalry is another that has never been seen before, dares to push the sport to the edges of physicality, athleticism, and endurance, and should be celebrated as such. As tennis fans, we should line up our water bottles, tug at our shorts, look to the heavens, tear off our shirts and jump in.

In The Navy

Posted by Brodie under: Fergasm, Rafa, USO

8 Sep 2010

If you’re an Armada fan (which I know many of you reading this are) last night was absolute heaven (well, unless you’re a diehard Ferru fan).

Quite honestly, through the first two sets of Fer/Ferru, I thought Fergasm was the better player. I was hoping he’d take the second to extend it longer… but he dropped it in the tiebreak, and that seemed to be it. A somewhat typical loss for Fer, being the better player but digging himself an insurmountable hole.

But then news came that he won the third set. No surprise. Still, Ferru is used to five setters, he wouldn’t give up so easily. Er… fourth set Fernando? OK? Then Fer harnessed the magic of the fifth set tiebreak to take it in one of the most memorable match points in recent history.

If I asked you at the beginning of the season which player would go four rounds in a slam without being broken, who would you put your money on? Ivo at Wimbledon? Fed at the Australian? Probably not Rafa at the US Open. Granted, Rafa hasn’t had the toughest opponents, 12 sets without being broken is pretty ridiculous.

Feli had his chances last night, even 0-40 where he essentially gifted Rafa the hold, but Rafa continues to show that he’s not interested in messing around on serve. The real beauty of the whole thing is Rafa’s improved serving. Again. He showed it off in AO last year, that he could use his serve as a weapon. In New York, he’s moved from using it as a weapon to showing that he can be in the upper echelon of bomb serving elite. That means cranking the 130+ missiles when he needs them. Nummy. And that’s what’s really going to make the difference down the road against the big boys (I don’t think I need to bring up the Rafa/Delpo semi from last year).

In case you haven’t figured it out, both these matches are from the same quarter, so we have another Fernando/Rafa slam throwdown. The good thing is that Fernando gets a day off (those with a quarterfinal match today won’t) however Rafa has pretty well exerted the minimum amount of energy over the first week and a bit, so he gets the big edge in that category.

Shrouded In Fog

Posted by Brodie under: Fergasm, SW19

23 Jun 2010

“There is something seriously bad with him right now”

Yeah, his beard.

Heyo!

The rumour mill is on the run, and apparently Feli was overheard saying this to an ATP official. What’s the problem? Can’t decide on which of six women to go with? Or that no matter how unattractive you try to make yourself, you still get more girls than the rest of the ATP combined?

OK, I kid. I ripped on Fer for the whole “Caro cheek grab” (well that sounds weird…) incident. And let’s be honest, none of us really knew what was going on in that conversation (or possibly don’t want to know). Regardless, there’s gotta be something seriously wrong to lost to Foghat on grass in the first round.

8. Fernando Verdasco

Posted by Brodie under: Fergasm, SW19

20 Jun 2010

Weapons: Great movement, not afraid to play aggressively, proven at Wimbledon.
Weaknesses: Serve can go AWOL, lacking a huge weapon to go deep.

Perhaps surprisingly, Fergasm has made the fourth round of Wimbley three of the past four years and has proven himself on grass. He’s playing super well this year and can use his well rounded game to get past lesser opponents. However, you’ve gotta feel that he lacks a huge weapon, particularly the serve or forehand, to go far and take out some of the top guys on grass. I await to be proven wrong, however. Could this be the year?

29 May 2010

Tough day today for the Armada, to say the least. Starting with JCF, taking on the last American man standing Robby Ginepri, he struggled and looked a bit tired in the first two sets, standing little opposition. But just like that, JCF started turning things around and before you knew it, it was off to 5 sets.

Ginepri turned things around in a hurry in the fifth set, despite being broken early with a lot of bad errors. He broke Juanqui back at love and was having a much easier time holding. Really was due to his big forehand and ability to push JCF back and keep him on the run. I actually thought JCF’s experience would help him pull it out, but in the end, he was just having way too hard of a time holding.

Not much to say about Daveed. Melzer came out firing and wasn’t interested in staying in long rallies. It seemed that nearly every close point was going his way and he dictated play the whole way to a straight sets win.

Fer toughed out a 5 sets win over Kohlswhatever, but was hurting and looked seriously burned out. Rafa circa 2009, anyone? The guy is bound to hit a wall sometime, and I’m not too sure he’ll have enough left in the tank to get his ass handed to him by Rafa.

By Rafa’s insane standards, it was probably a rough walk in the park, but for everyone else it’s a solid 3, 4 and 3 win over Lleyton. Rafa had some uncharacterstic errors in the second set and he had some trouble on break points, but overall he’s looking quite good, and I still don’t think there’s anyone around in his half to stop him.

POW! BAM! KABOOM!

Posted by Brodie under: Fergasm, Madrid

11 May 2010

This isn’t the greatest pic to use, but I couldn’t help but think that Fergasm looks like an action figure in this pic. KABLAMO!

It was generally business as usual for the dudes, as Fer took care of Ivo after a hard fought first set and a tight tiebreak. Fed knocked out Becker, who actually fought hard and put up a good show. Ernie, Stan, Tree, Garlo, Thomasz and Baggy all pulled out solid wins.

Schwank had another solid win, over PHM, two guys whose year’s are going in opposite directions. Pesky Petz dinged out Foggy, and Sammy Q fell in a long match to a qualifier about a zillion spots below his ranking. And for those who haven’t heard, both Nalby AND Berd withdrew, (so much fail) so what would have been a kickass night match was replaced with, you know it, 32 year old Muscles Russel and Mardy Fish. Well, that was a significant down grade then, wasn’t it? They’re still on court.

Edit: Almost forgot! Second session of live blogging tomorrow! Up bright and early at 6am EST for the JJ/Ana match. And yes, I’m going out to the bar for my buddy’s birthday to watch the hockey game… that starts at 10pm. I’ll be up though, dammit.

I Look Up At The Sky

Posted by Brodie under: Barcelona, Fergasm

25 Apr 2010

Oh, Fernando.

An impressive win by Fergasm today, to claim his first ever 500 level title, knocking out a steadfast Sod. That’s a win over Sod and Nole over 2 weeks, a masters final and a 500 title. Wow. This coming from a guy who didn’t have much of a clay season last year. Oh, and he came back in the semis against Ferru after being down a set and a break. Hella.

The most impressive thing for me has been Fer’s mental strength that’s seemingly come out of nowhere. Even after a complete thrashing at the hands of the King in the Monte Carlo final, he’s managed to pick himself up this week. Even when down, or after errors, he can take a deep breath, shrug the shoulders, and urge himself on. Which is exactly what you need on clay to keep fighting, because anything can happen.

Let’s not get too excited, this doesn’t suddenly make him a French Open contender, and he IS a top 10 player, so it’s not like he’s a dark horse. However, something like a semifinal is entirely within his reach with guys like Kolya and Delpo out, and the fact that he can beat Nole and Sod and has the fitness for 5 setters. This clay season just got a whole lot sexier.

Vamos!

Posted by Brodie under: Fergasm, Monte Carlo, Rafa

17 Apr 2010

For the first time in Monte Carlo’s zillion year history, they had 3 Spaniards in the final 4. Well go figure, we’ve got ourselves an all Spanish final. One to be expected, the other, maybe not so much.

Rafa did business as expected against Ferru, who played well. All you can do is think to yourself “how could this guy ever lose on clay?… Oh wait.”

Fergasm actually lost fewer games to a tired, unconvincing Nole, who was not moving well enough for a win. Fer, on the other hand, was pushing like he can, keeping the ball in, and looking pretty mentally tough. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives Rafa a legit fight. Doubt he can beat him, but hey. This is the first Masters final for Fer. Should be a good one.

When Hotness Collides

Posted by Brodie under: Fergasm, Monte Carlo, Nole

16 Apr 2010

On the other side of the draw, Nole took care of Nalby, who looked a bit of a shell compared to previous matches. He had particular trouble on serve, and Nole spit him up and chewed him out, and is looking as good as he did on clay last year.

As for Fer, the match I didn’t see, he took out Montanes winning the first set, losing the second in a tiebreak, and then tossing a bagel. Fer with some mental strength? Well I’ll be damned. Nice to see Fer playing well on clay too, his game should transfer well over. Should be a great semifinal. It follows Rafa/Ferru.

24 Mar 2010

Last week Caro and A-Rad both sported matching straightened hair, a decision that was likely co-ordinated… so what were they thinking when they decided to do this to our poor bleeding eyes? I have no idea. I’m no fashion expert, but these were bad enough on their own. We know you’re friends, girls. Bellydancer seducing leopard? Yeah… no.

Hell, the guys were better dressed. Even ANDY MURRAY looks way better. What is wrong with the world?

The Changeover Podcast:

Episode #56 – Indian Wells Wrap