Procrastination (But I Digress)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

And Then There Were Two

Wow, the train took forever last night to get me home, but no matter, Kim and Victoria didn't start until late (although they never did tell me if the Bryan Brother's pulled it out, darn).  Kim looked great!  Azarenka looked better.  There were nerves on both sides.  Any time one was down, just look away and they'd pull themselves out and be on top.  Three sets of a roller coaster and Azarenka has made it into her first final (can that possibly be right--she is an awesome player) and it is time for Kim to say good-bye to Australia.  This is bittersweet, since Kim (a long time ago) dated Australian tennis superstar, Lleyton Hewitt and she was known as Aussie Kim (even though she's Belgium).  Now she's a mom and she wants to have another child, so this is her last season in tennis--heartbreak for us--she will be missed.

And then before you can get your breath, Petra and Maria take the stage.  I looked at the clock and it was already 9:30--I couldn't believe it was so late and yet their match was just starting.  Kvitova came out fighting hard--making Maria look a lot older than she is (she's only 24--I think Serena has already had her 30th).  Maria fought for every point, but Petra just looked a lot better in the beginning.  And then the cracks began to show.  Kvitova was soooo nervous and Maria was soooo determined.  Another roller coaster ride--one minute I was sure that Kvitova had the match well in hand and I was sadly ready to say good-bye to Maria and then Maria had the match masterfully in hand and I was sadly ready to say good-bye to Petra--better luck next time.  And then Petra would not go away.  She found more weapons and then Maria made errors and then Petra made errors and then Maria hung on against terrible odds and then Petra held on against terrible odds.  It took three sets, but Maria did it (Petra's nerves were too much in the end).

So the finals will be Maria Sharapova looking for her second Australian Open Championship, but her first after shoulder surgery.  The commentators could not come up with a single athlete who had that serious surgery and came back from it to win a major.  Against Victoria Azarenka--a very solid, powerful, talented player who is in her first final in a major.  Maria will be the favorite, but Azarenka is the one to watch.  Even though it is her first final, I do not expect nerves from this one (of course, I didn't expect them from Kvitova either who had won the French--oh well, I love Maria's chances on this one).  The winner will be the new number one women's ranking which is usually not a good thing--past number one's crash and burn or never win majors--Maria, however, I am sure, will be happy to chance it.

And then I crashed.  It was almost midnight and the men's semifinal was going to start at 12:30.  I set up the DVR and prayed.  At 5:30 a.m. I was wide awake, hoping that I could watch the dream match--Men's semifinal, NADAL v. FEDERER!  The DVR worked, I was so happy.  I settled in to watch holding the remote, since if it went five sets, I was going to have to fast forward over some play in order to still make the train at 8:30.  The first set was an impossible nail biter--could Fed really beat my Nadal.  He seemed to have all the answers, but then so did Nadal.  Nadal made Fed look human and not so magic after all.  It was amazing.  No more elegant Fed--Nadal made him scrap and scramble and jump and miss and the net, oh the net was not Fed's friend at all.  But Nadal was no longer the king either.  He too did not get the impossible shot that he usually makes look routine.  Oh my, Fed won the first set and was up a break in the second.  How could this be?  Then Nadal took command, never say die, he broke right back.  This one went back and forth so much.  The commentators said that these two know each other's game so well that there are no surprises.  At 8:00 a.m. I was so nervous--would I miss my train.  I looked at the train schedule.  If they went to a fifth set, I was going to have to wait until 10:45 for the next train.  I could possibly drive in, but I'm staying in Glendale tonight and then I have the kids on Friday and I'd have two cars in Glendale and have to drive back on Monday night--it is just not going to work.  Please win in the fourth!! put an end to this.

I could pause the game--Did I?  I did made the train, but that is all I will say, because some people have not had the opportunity to watch it yet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot

So that is the condition in Melbourne this week.  Maria is playing really excellent and then her serve goes and we hold our breath and then it comes back and we breath a sigh of relief.  Lisicki looked like she had the goods, but in the end Maria held on and she's still in the race.  Amazingly Zvonareva is out and a qualifyier, Makarova (whom I had never heard of) is through to face Sharapova in the quarters.  If Maria has a problem with a qualifier, then she deserves to lose, but I don't think she will have any problem at all.  Then she plays Kvitova--oh my.  She is a new up and commer who won a major last year and was in some finals the year before.  She has a great spirit, but I'll probably be rooting for Maria. 

On the other side, oh my, oh my.  When Kim Clijsters turned her ankle, I was heartbroken for her.  Then when Li Na self imploaded, I was heartbroken for her (thrilled times three for Kim, but heartbroken for her).  Next Kim faced Caroline.  I love Caroline.  I love Kim.  Kim had an injury and Caroline is really, really hungry for her first slam win.  She's a scraper.  But then so is Kim.  Kim Clijsters played so awesomely.  Everything was clicking.  Caroline doesn't give up--ever, but she just got out played by someone with a lot more weapons.  Kim next faces Azarenka.  Another commer, who's won some majors and been in the mix a lot in the past few years.  Kim will really have her work cut out for her, but with the momentum that she has, I like her chances.

On the men's side, we are getting used to this final four that is shaping up.  I thought that Del Po would put up a better fight against Federer, but Fed had it all the way.  I was not surprized that Berdych won one set off of Nadal, but I was also not surprized that Berdych is out and we have the famed Federer/Nadal match up next. 

Djokovic against Hewitt was not easy to watch.  Hewitt works sooo hard and Djokovic didn't need his A game.  And then on the other side--a new comer to the field, Kei Nishikori.  Again, if Murray can't beat this guy, this gift in the draw, then he doesn't deserve the next round.  Murray has been playing very well this tournament.  Djok better bring his A game in that match up. 

Honorable mention to Serena going out to a qualifier--it just was not her night.  And I expected Ivanovic to put up more of a match against Kvitova--That Petra has a great game.  Maria will really need to bring her best to beat her (if she gets there).  I didn't get to see Bartoli play this tournament and I was surprised and a little encouraged that Zheng Jie could take her.  It was so awful that Monfils was injured and didn't play 100%.  If you tuned in on my recomendation, try again when he's fit--he really is the most fun to watch of all of them.

So knock on wood that there won't be rain, but I'm sure they'd love a cloud or two, cause it is very hot at the Australian Open.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tennis Anyone

It's the most wonderful time of the year--ok, the most wonderful time happens four times a year, but it's been a really long time since last Summer and the US Open--I can't even remember who won (except that I don't think it was my Nadal).

So a few years back, when I first discovered the Australian Open, Serena had been slipping out of the top 10, focusing on her fashion or some such stuff and all of a sudden she refocused at the Australian Open and won it all.  They were the first court to have retractable roofs so that they could play rain or shine--a very big deal.  The wonderful thing about the grand slams are the interesting match ups that come out of the draw.  It used to be that the same old, same old, always made it through.  Maybe it is just me, but the field is sooo sooo deep these days. 

On the women's side, as much as I love Serena and Kim Clijsters, and Jankovic (she is playing mixed doubles with Tomic--Wow,Wow,Wow) and Maria and Li Na and even Kvitova and Kuznetsova (and it is sooo sad that Sam Stosur went out in the first round--the first round in her own country), I want Caroline to win.  She is an awesome player.  This has to be some kind of a record to be number one in your sport, but to have never won a major.  She's going to have to beat ALL of my favorite players until the semi's and Serena is on the other side so the final won't be a picnic either.  We'll see.  Nadia is already out, heartbreak, but at least she is still in doubles.

On the men's side, there are no Americans left in the field.  When I saw the result of the Hewitt/Roddick match I was very surprised.  I was even more surprised when I realized that it was in three sets and then I saw those dreaded three letters "ret".  INJURY, oh no.  Roddick was injured and had to retire.  I couldn't wait to see the dvr, so I read the web story and the comments.  A hamstring injury, ouch.  Earlier in the game so he played with the injury for a while, double ouch.  The comments really slammed Hewitt.  I love Hewitt.  I love Roddick too, but I took offense at the negative treatment of Hewitt. 

Until I watched the match.  Oh my.  Hewitt took his "I hate the world" pills.  Roddick played well, but not great.  Hewitt played well, but not great.  In the third set, it was very clear that Roddick wasn't moving, but Hewitt didn't run away with the game or anything, Roddick was right in it.  Since I already knew that he retired, I expected him to do it at almost every turn.  Finally Patrick (McEnroe the commentator on ESPN2) said Andy had to be in a lot of pain, but he doesn't show it and he knows that everyone paid a lot of money to see this match and he wants to give them a match.  The camera was close up on Roddick at one point and he was tearing, but he used a towel on his face and was ready for the next serve.  It was agony waiting for him to retire.  I started to get very angry with Hewitt showing his angry guy fist pump for every point that he won.  He knew damn well that Roddick was hurt and not 100%.  I started to understand the comments.

I watched the first round match of Tomic v. Verdasco.  I felt bad for Tomic (an Australian--really young guy, very successful as a junior) to have to go up such a great veteran player in his first round.  It never occured to me that Tomic would win.  But oh, baby, he did.  An epic five set nail bitter.  And then Tomic beat Querry (an American with promise that has not been realized to date) and then he beat Dolgopolov, another fine player and another five set match.  Now he will face Federer.  Tomic you had a great run--you are tall with terrific skills, but don't even think about winning against my Roger Federer.

Roger played Ivo Karlovic in the last round, oh my.  The went to a tie break in the first set.  Ivo was up a mini break and I thought what the h*ll, does just anybody think they can beat Roger these days.  I mean Karlovic is a really good player, don't get me wrong, he's been around for a long time.  It is one thing for Safin (who had won a major) to think he stood a change against Roger (it's probably several years ago, but I still remember it from the period during which Roger could not be beat), but Ivo hasn't ever won a major.  The next three points were poetry in motion.

Let me just say here, that I've had a hard time liking Federer.  The guy doesn't smile and he was the only player to challenge my favorite Nadal.  Roger always has a non descript look on his face, sometimes a scowl, but usually no emotion at all.  And he appears to win so effortlessly that it is easy to miss the poetry of his movements, the shear gorgeousness of his form.  He makes tennis look like anyone could just pick up a racket and hit the ball exactly where they want to.  With Nadal and Roddick, you see force and power, with Roger, it is finess, a soft touch, magic.  I guess it is hard to call a magician a skilled athlete, because it really looks like magic, but I digress.

When Ivo went up the mini break, they showed a shot of Mirka, Roger's wife (I'm probably spelling her name wrong).  I don't like Mirka.  I didn't like her when she was the long time fiance and I didn't like her as the wife.  Roger is the premier athlete in the world, of all time and she looks like a sour puss.  She's always frowning.   She always looks mad or bored.  Uncle Tony (Nadal's coach and his Uncle) always looks serious too, but Mirka, well she looks kind of mean.  So Ivo goes up his mini break and his box goes crazy they are so happy.  Mirka frowns, wrings her hands a little and I think, I don't like you Mirka.

And then Roger wins the next point.  Ivo's box was perplexed.  How did Roger win that point?  It was over so fast--did they even see the ball?  And Wow, Roger has a beautiful serve.  How have I never noticed what a gorgeous serve Roger has.  His movement is so graceful and beautiful.  And when he won set point, they showed a shot of Mirka.  She had the most beautiful, wonderful smile on her face.  I have never seen that woman smile.  It gives me hope for mankind.  Roger is such an awesome player that I almost think he loses some points on purpose a little, so that when he pulls out the win, we will actually appreciate it and reward him with that big smile.

I still want Nadal to win the whole thing.

P.S.  If you get a change to see a Monfil's match, don't miss it.  Cahill said that when he comes back in his next life, he wants to come back as Gil Monfils--who wouldn't want to wake up every morning and be that happy, wonderful guy.  He has so much fun on the court and he is such an awesome player.  Me too.