Monday, June 9, 2008

French Open 2008

I watched the French Open final last night. Disturbing stuff. Nadal is truly scary on clay, and Federer had no idea. It was sad to see someone of Federer's class reduced to trying trick shots and hitting cold winners. And the frightening thing is that there's no other way of beating Nadal. He is nigh on invincible.

It was apparent on Federer's face as he waited for the presentation. He was numb, blank and utterly lost. You could hear him saying to himself "what the fuck do I have to do?" over and over. He's facing an opponent who's younger, fitter, stronger, hungrier and fiercer than him. And he's on a surface that celebrates those qualities over pure tennis genius.

Federer's an incredibly unlucky bastard. He IS the best tennis player ever. And he's had the misfortune of being born at a time when the greatest clay-courter ever is at his peak. At any other time in tennis, he would've won two calender slams. He would've won a hat-trick of French Opens. He would've been the undisputed greatest player ever.

However, he's up against Nadal, and there's nothing he can do. Nadal's topspin forehand absolutely kills Federer's backhand. Nadal's defensive play nullifies Federer's brilliant forehand. Federer is impotent against him.

There were signs in the second set of a way out of this mess. Serve-and-volley. Drop shots. Cute little drop-volleys at acute angles. Shake Nadal out of his rallies and force him to change the range of his shots. But really, it's like fighting a tank with a slingshot. Hopelessly unrealistic.

It's a bit like Arsenal trying to compete against the debt-monsters of Chelsea and Man Utd. No fucking way we're going to challenge with a bunch of kids. Depressing.

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