Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wimby '08. The greatest finals EVER.

DISCLAIMER: For all you non-tennis fans on this page; this is a long and winded description of a match. You probably don't want to read this. Oh, and chances are tennis fans will also consider it the same. But whatever man. I'm not stopping you from hitting the the red X.


For those of you reading my blog who aren't already acquainted with me, I should tell you that I'm a tennis maniac. Not the playing kind of course, on account of how I'm the laziest bum that walked this green Earth; but the watching kinds. I'm not an expert on the subject, since my fondness for the sport waxed only a few years back. Neither do I watch EVERY match that is broadcast.

Okay, I guess I'm not what a standard definition would call a tennis MANIAC, but I'm a huge fan of the sport anyway. And especially one of the most adorable/strongest/cutest/most determined tennis player in this era - Rafael Nadal. *Siiiigh*.

So, today, on the 1-week anniversary of Rafa annihilating the "World #1" Roger Federer on the 122nd Wimbledon Gentlemen's Singles Final - my topic for my post will be just that - the Wimby finals, baby!

It is not with modesty (:P) that I proclaim that I DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY played a part in Rafa's awesome victory. No, really! Nadal has always won the matches that I watch live on TV. The 4 Roland Garros finals? I watched every point glued to the screen. But the Wimby? Not so lucky.

Last year, I watched until the 4th set, but then had to go out for this movie. I told my mum how instrumental I was to Nadal's success, but she rolled her eyes and told me to get a move on. Something about spending quality time with family and all of that. Whatever man. The movie (The Prestige) sucked (I didn't understand the plot until my sister, who was watching it for the 2nd time, explained it to me at the interval); and Nadal lost.

The year before the last, I was on a train, returning from Calicut after a cousin-in-law's (yes, I know the word doesn't exist) sister's wedding.

I don't remember my alibi for the other Wimby matches, but I sure as hell wasn't present. And the first year I watch the match from the 1st point to the last - he wins! What does that tell you, huh?

Anyway, on to the match. The 122nd Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Assosciation's Gentlemen's Singles Final was THE BEST MATCH, WITHOUT DOUBT, THAT I HAVE EVER WATCHED!!! The semifinals of R. Nadal v. C. Moya in the Chennai Open 2008 comes a close second. Rafa won 6-7(3) 7-6(8!!) 7-6(1). But more about that later.

When the players were walking out (there was a 23 minute delay due to rain), before the match started, Vijay Amritraj commented on something, and I found it strange too. Nadal walked out first, and Federer followed behind him, like a meek little puppy. Then again, maybe they both couldn't fit through the door at the same time and one had to walk out first. Anyway, I took it as a sign of Nadal's impending victory. He looked so determined to win! It was beyond adorable, I tell you! :P

He took his usual ten-minute ritual after sitting down - the one which involves drinking water from 5 different bottles, untying and retying his shoelaces, and making sure that all his rackets were in fine order. Finally, he walked out to the net - where Federer had been waiting with a bored expression on his face - to commence the coin toss. He won it (duh. I was watching, remember? ;).

I remember Vijay Amritraj speculating that the very first point of the match would qualify as "Play Of The Day" material. I agreed with him, as it was definitely a >5-shot-rally. Boy, both Vijay and I sure didn't know what we were up for in the next 4 hours and 48 minutes!

The first two sets passed in a whirlwind of skilled tennis. Roger couldn't break Rafa in the first set, resulting in a 6-4 win for Rafa. And after Nadal broke Federer early on the second set, Federer managed his only conversion of the many break point opportunities that he got. Nadal promptly broke back though, and won the set (again) 6-4.

Then came Rain Break #1, and provided some relief for Federer. His face, which had become considerably smaller as the second set progressed, took on a more confident note, and he defended all his serves in the next 2 sets. Nadal defended all of his serve games too, which resulted in neither player being able to break the other. Hence the two tiebreakers, both of which Federer won, 6-7 6-7. Nadal had had 2 championship points by now, but had failed to convert either. Rain Break #2 followed, and I cursed London's whimsical weather.

Everyone in my family retired to bed at mid-3rd-set; with the exception of moi. Their support had been oscillating from Nadal to Federer to Nadal again. But not my dad, oh no. He's the staunchest supporter of Federer, which made the match, if you ask me, quite heated, with both of us yelling our heads off for our respective players (well, me yelling my head off; and my dad only clapping. Hard.).

I was a nervous wreck after Federer equalised Nadal's 2-set lead. I sat in pin-drop silence, feeling my heart thump (loudly) against my ribcage every time Nadal won or lost a point. The final set, thank God, disallowed a tiebreaker (as is the rule in all Grand Slam titles' deciding set). The set stretched on, with each player playing his best. Federer's best though, I noticed, was considerably worse than Nadal's best. The thing that surprised me most about Federer's game was the number of unforced errors he made. Mostly nets, and a fair proportion of wides too.

It's 6-7. Nadal's serve. If Federer breaks Rafael this time, he wins the title - making history as the only man to win the Wimbledon 6 times in a row. Unfortunately for him, a determined (and cute) Spaniard stands in his way. And stand in Federer's way, Nadal does. He wins on his serve, making the score 7-7. The atmosphere is tense. Everyone's heart is probably thumping as hard as mine is. It is Federer's serve. Nadal teases Federer, coming to break point at 15-40. But there IS a reason Federer is World No. 1. He slams an ace and makes it 30-40. Nadal still has one break point left. Federer plays ferociously, compelling Nadal to make an unforced error, and evens it out to a deuce. Nadal has thus not managed to convert either of his 2 break points in this game.

Deuce. Heart-stopping play occurs and Nadal wins an advantage, and then wins the game, thus breaking Federer! He yells a victory cry but then regains his composure. This is the first time in 3 sets that either player has broken the other. Nadal is just ONE game away from winning what is, arguably, the best Wimbledon final of all time. Kudos to Federer though, as he "tried everything" to break Rafa back, bringing the final game of the championship to a deuce. Federer doesn't let Rafa claim his third game-set-championship point after Rafa wins an advantage. So it's deuce again. But no-one can stop the Spaniard now! The sweet taste of victory entices him, and he aggressively wins another advantage. It is his fourth championship point. AND THEN FEDERER NETS THE BALL!

AND RAFAEL NADAL IS THE WINNER OF THE 122ND WIMBLEDON GENTLEMEN SINGLES TITLE! I, of course, not content to hug this to myself, run to my mum's room and pummel her until she wakes up. She drags herself to the living room and smiles at Rafa. Because who doesn't smile at Rafa's adorable-ness? The minute that ball bounced off Federer's racket and failed to cross the net, Rafa was flat on the ground, screaming.

And then, cuteness at its peak, he scrambles over the roof to get to his parents and his coach and his (sniff) girlfriend, and hugs all of them. And he walks across the roof to shake hands with the Crown Prince Of Spain, Felipe. Awwww! Someone throws him a flag of Spain, and he drapes it across his shoulders and descends back to the court.

His post-match words were beyond sweet. He praised Federer and said that Federer was still World #1, regardless of who won this final. Could he be more polite? I think not!

Okay, allow me just one line of sadism. Mwahahahhaa all you Roger fans out there! Not so great now, is he? In your face, suckers!!!! :P Yup, I'm done. I needed to get that out of my system. :P

And that; was my version of the Wimbledon Finals 2008. But it is 12.26 AM right now, and I need to wake up early tomorrow to finish my Physics homework. So I'd better go now. Seeya later fellas! Signing off!
~~~~~~~~~!!!!!!!!!RAFA 4EVER!!!!!!!!!~~~~~~~~~