Murray vs Djokovic: Wimbledon Finals

Have you ever felt that here’s one guy who can just not be beaten? That was Murray on the ninth game of the third set of the final.

Djokovic played very, very well. And couldn’t get a blessed point. On his serve!

Just when Federer’s about to be gone for good, we have Murray, and a proper Top 3 again. All hail the Top 3.

And all hail Fred Perry. 77 years! Well done.

Here’s a read — Guardian.

And by the by — you cannot ever have a classic with two players who are as similar as Murray and Djokovic. Feel free to disagree, though, with examples. Becker/Edberg does not count.

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US Open ’08

If it goes according to plan, Dinara, Venus, Dementieva, Jankovic will be the semi-final line up. And that would have been my prediction before the tournament started.

And now, it goes funny. Who will win? Form says Safina, logic says Jankovic, common sense says Venus, and the heart says Dementieva. Would not really mind if any of the four win, I like them all… but would really lke the bridesmaid stage for Dementieva to end.

And of course, there is Serena to put a spanner in the works. If she beats Venus, and if she is really in the mood, she can brush aside the opposition and win in a canter.

Question, how good, really, is Juan Martin Del Potro? An Argentine who prefers the hard courts to dirt? That’s new. Oh, and super name! Same with Kei Nishikori, who he beat in the roud of 16. Hmm, well, I don’t know really. Maybe either names are as plain as , say, James blake, in their respective countries.

If not now, then when, for Andy Murray? he faces Del Potro.

If not now, then when, for Mardy Fish? Really like the guy, and he has got real game for a journyman. But then, alas, he faces Nadal.

Can Nole face the power of Roddick, who, it seems, is back? If I were a betting man, I would have put in a few quid for Roddick in that match.

And really, the journeyman of all journeymen, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, is in the quarters. He actually managed to beat Davydenko. But then, all that he has is a big serve. And that will surely not be good eough to beat Federer.

Who will win? Nadal, if he is not too tired by the end of it all. Else … tough to say. Let’s see. My listing is Murray Federer Roddick. But you never know about Federer. His aura is gone. The lower ranked players don’t mind having a go at him these days, in the hope of an upset. Nadal, I’m sure thinks that he is beatable five times out of five… but how about Roddick? He has eternally been in Federer’s shadow… can he really believe? I doubt it. And let’s not forget, Federer is still a very, very good player.

Sachin

VVS goes. And Sachin comes in.

And pardon me for this stream-of-consciousness post… that’s the best i can manage now…

He comes in. Small man. Strong gait. Confident in his abilities, poised to his responsibilities, and comfortable in his achievements. Like we have seen him for almost all our lives.

It is indeed amazing that for almost all my life as a cricket follower, Sachin has been performing for the country, and it has taken me this long to warm up to him.

As I have mentioned so many times earlier, for a serious sports-lover, it is almost impossible to have a devoted Sachin-following mindset, he seems almost unreal.

Okay, sorry, I was speaking for myself here, I guess.

Tiger, Federer and Sachin. And of course Jordan, Pete and Steffi a generation back. Zizou. These are the immortals. They never fail. They never falter. They are not human.

They had honed the almost unbelievable talent that has been bestowed upon them, with their own bit of hard graft. The monument of their performance has as much to do with blood and sweat, as with the gifts they had been born with.

They are perfect in their conduct in the field, they are perfect in their interaction to the media, and they are far away from controversy (or nearly so). They are noticed for their performances, and never for their extra-curricular activities, so as to say.

They are easy to respect, and difficult to love. Almost impossible to love, unless you are just a glory hound.

The cocky braggadocio of Pietersen and Kobe and the Williams sisters, even Djokovic in recent times; the sturdy determination of Border, Tomas Muster, Dravid and Lendl; the relative under-achievement of Barkley, Becker, Els and Ballack (and Azhar); the devil-may-care rabble rousing of Jimmy Connors and Ganguly; the genuine niceness and friendliness (as opposed to professional distance) of Shaq and Cesc and Adam Gilchrist; the precocious talent and almost performing-without-trying of Lara and McEnroe and Wasim; the passion of Nadal and Warne and Diego… these give in much more easily to fan-following…

It took a retirement from Graf for me to be a fan, it took a headbutt from Zidane for me to be his fan. Jordan never failed, and I could never be his fan. It took a sudden streak of vulnerability from Pete for me to be his fan…. and so has it been with Sachin.

Sachin, in the last two-three years, has been a pleasure to watch. His powers on the wane, his performance hasn’t. Hard graft, patience and sudden glimpses of flair have been the hallmarks of the recent Sachin. And tell me, the missed hundreds of the last year, haven’t they been exhilarating? And then the throwing up of the bat, reaching a hundred after long last, didn’t you jump off the seat at that moment, sharing the joy with him?

Good Marat, Bad Marat and Crazy Marat…

Goran Ivanisevic, the player of the previous generation most resembling Marat Safin in sheer volatility and unpredictableness, once said

In every game I play there are three players in me that could surface anytime, Good Goran, Bad Goran, Crazy Goran! They can all serve aces.

So which Safin will we see day-after-tomorrow? In my book, Good Marat beats everyone on tour, including Federer. Even Good Roger? Even in grass? We’ll see…

Live: Nadal vs. Kiefer / Wimbledon 3rd round

Player – Set1 – Set 2 – Set 3 – Set 4 – Set 5

Nadal – 7 (7) – 6 – 6

Kiefer – 6(3) – 2 – 3

Commentary: Set 1

Nadal with a mini break in the tie-breaker.

 I am seeing a lot of drop shots. Nadal is doing it well….

And I agree with the TV commentators. Kiefer is doing it as well as he can. He will still possibly lose.

Aah, unforced error, Kiefer. 6-2 to Nadal.

Kiefer serves.

Holds with a big serve.

Set point on the Nadal serve.

Sets it up well with a wide serve, and Kiefer hits the net.

Nadal wins the first set.

Set 2

 Nadal has had only 5 of his 105 service games broken. Tha’s a Goran, Pete, Boris stat. And the guy is hardly a huge server.

 The players are back on court. Nadal Serves.

 Nadal is probably the fittest guy ever to play tennis. Lendl? No, not a shot. It’s Nadal.

 And as differentiating from Lendl, the perennial Wimbledon bridesmaid, Nadal never tries to change his game. He makes his strengths more pronounced, and makes his foibles less evident.

Nadal wins the first game, 1-0

Kiefer to serve now.

Kiefer has had great games, and many bad ones. Pretty much like his german compatriot Tommy Haas of the post-BeckerSteffiStich era. Never any consistancy. And regular injuries, both of them. And the bugbear of coming right after Boris. But well, they did not do very badly overall, did they? Haas lost to Andy Murray yesterday. Good solid high-end journeymen, of the rank 9 to 32 type. And both had had better than no.9 times. They are needed to keep the game alive.

 He has the pre-requisites. Big serve, solid groundstrokes, good movement.

Ooh, Nadal breakpoint.

And second serve.

Unforced error. Nadal 2-0.

Nadal to serve.

Nadal has a very good serve. Not a huge serve, but it creates a good build up play for a ….

ooh, drop shot again.

yeah, back to Lendl, he tried to change his game to win the Wimbledon. Nadal never does. He always had a great volley. and well, if you move quick (probably the greatest), and have a superb top spin forehand, you will do well everywhere. He has made his volley better. His serve better. And has learnt to change the speed of play to suit him. And he can slice and hit big backhands…. Yes, he can kinda do everything.

Nadal holds easily. 3-0.

 Kiefer serves.

This challenge rule is fabulous. Should have it in cricket and football too.

Kiefer has a big, big serve.

 Kiefer holds. 1-3.

 Nadal.

What a good serve strategy.

Keep the first serve. First serve percentage! First serve percentage!

Keep it far wide of the other guy. Lots of top spin. Make him stretch.

get the floater, take it down for an easy putaway.

Easy to say, no? Not easy to do.

Rafa holds.

 I see him winning this time. Really. He is getting better everyday. And Roger is not. He got to a spectacularly high standard, and held on to it. A moving target is tougher to get to that a static one….

Kiefer serves.

Unforced.

Don’t try dainty drop shots, Nick.

130mph ace. and another. Stay there, give us a match, Nick.

 Oh, what a point. He slipped and fell down, yet got a drop volley out. Kiefer got to it alright, and hit a volley. Nadal even gave chase…

Thats the only point Kiefer got on Nadal’s serve. Nadal holds. 5-2.

Kiefer. Wild first serve.

Oh yeah, thanks Mack. Chris Evert and Greg Norman tied the knot today. Congrats to both. The not supremely talented, but unflinching, never throwing a match, Chris; and the supremely talented, but a little suspect on the real big stage Big White Shark. They are both good looking though. Good looking 53 year olds.

Nadal walked through the game. Did not lose a point. Set 2 to Nadal. 6-2

If he plays at this level, and Federer beats him (and yes, even at Wimbledon), good for him… he can go ahead and take down Pete.

A confession. I will be heartbroken if he dows. I respect Roger, but Pete is PETE.

Will take a break for a bit, and get back after 10 mins. Channels changed. NBC is showing the LPGA US open. Annika and Paula Creamer on show. I will get back to Nadal and Kiefer, thanks.

Set 3

 Unfortunately, this ends here. The ESPN2 is showing Stepanek/Youzhny. I like both guys, but cannot care to have this commentary going. Will watch it though.

Oh hang on, we are back to Nadal/Kiefer.

1-0 Nadal. Kiefer serves.

Incredible defensive play by Nadal. It helps if you have legs such that you can reach everywhere on court.

 Yes, Kiefer double-faults, the challenge does not hold. Nadal 2-0.

 Don’t get me wrong. Kiefer is good. Good movement, big groundstrokes, good returns and big serve. And he is not really playing badly, on the kind of surface he should like the most. Yet Nadal is just blowing him away…. This here is something special.

 Oh, remember, this match too is Spain vs Germany….

 Nadal holds with an ace. 3-0.

 Kiefer serves.

Great acrobatic jump-volley by Kiefer.

But Nadal breaks.

In more ways than one, Kiefer is a broken man now. This match, for all practical purposes, is over.

 Nadal holds serve on one of the best points of the match…. End to end stuff, both players won the point twice, really. In the end though, Nadal won. As you could have guessed. 5-0 Nadal.

Kiefer serves.

OH. OH what a shot. Nadal. Running forehand, Pete style. brilliant.

But Nick holds. 5-1 to nadal.

nadal serves for the match.

15-30. Any chance for Kiefer? Naah…

15-40. maybe? Naah….

Well, yes. Kiefer breaks. Good fight.

He will not win for sure, but well, he is giving his all. And the Wimbledon crowd appreciated it. 5-2 to Nadal. Kiefer serves.

Kiefer holds with three aces. 5-3.

Nadal serves now.

Will it happen again? Naah….

15-0 Nadal. It WAS out, the Kiefer lob.

Good serve. nadal 30-0.

Brilliance by nadal. 40-0. Crosscourt slice backhand. Fistpump.

Matchpoint.

Nadal wins as the Kiefer lob sails wide.

Good workout. Great one, Rafa.

Kiefer gets the claps. He passes on one of his racquets to the crowds.

Now Nadal leaves as well…. are we seeing the Wimbledon ’08 champion?

It is possible….

And on a stray thought, I appreciate much more the work done by Brydon Coverdale, Jenny Thompson, Will Luke, Sreeram Veera, old college buddy Sid Vaidyanathan and others at Cricinfo, for their live commentary on games. It is tiring after two short games and a tie-breaker in tennis. It must be manifoldly tougher to hold on to the same for full cricket matches… repeatedly, everyday.

Cheers, gentlemen and ladies. Keep at it.