- Rafa’s out of London, following a loss to Tsonga. He’s en route to Sevilla, to join his team mates for the Davis Cup final. I have a few thoughts on this, mainly–Really, Rafa? Really? You were supposed to win London, therefore checking this title off your list. Instead, you’re going to enter revenge-mode and prize the cookie out of Argentina’s hands, aren’t you? Sigh.
- Meanwhile, compatriot Ferru reached the SFs, despite a three-set loss to Berdy. Of the top 8 men, Ferru was the only one who entered London without being accompanied by his parents. While that served as a blessing in his first two RR matches, the hot pink jersey Ferru changed into during his 3rd match against Berdy cancelled out the positive effects. Berdy’s victory earned him a spot in the SFs. Also, Berdy’s parents were in attendance, which reminded me of the time Berdy remarked that his father often stays up late to live scoreboard his matches, when they’re not televised (live scoreboarding involves frantically staring at the scoreboard on the ATP site. It’s the bottom level for any tennis fan. For a Berdy fan, it must be sheer torture).
- Speaking of parents, Robert Federer was by Roger’s side at the Arsenal football match in London. Roger attended with fellow Gillette endorser and former Arsenal star, Thierry Henry. Below is an entertaining clip of Robert Federer (left) demolishing a hot dog while Roger listens to Henry’s musings (via @naturelle13)
- Tipsy (sub for Murray, who withdrew following a groin injury) pulled off a rare victory over Djokovic, which sent the no. 1 out of the WTF. Djokovic didn’t seem too perturbed by his early loss, which brought his season to a 70-6 finish. On W-L numbers, his season isn’t the greatest ever (McEnroe’s 82-3 and Fed’s 92-5 are far more worthy contenders). In the interests of fairness, all the credit to him for a great 3 quarters–three GSs and 5 Masters titles is an impressive haul and 2011 was his banner year.
In spite of the lengthy season and the rash of injuries plaguing the top men, I’m not fully convinced by the journalists who argue that this necessarily devalues the WTF. After all, Ferru’s played almost as many matches as anyone this year and he’s still on a tear. Even if Rafa is out this year, he managed to reach the final in 2010 (after winning 3 Grand Slams). Of course there’s Fed, who managed 3 Grand Slams + WTF on three separate occasions.
I guess I just want to make the counterpoint that the tennis season is also a test of fitness and endurance (Ferru comes to mind here). Even the top players will fail that test on occasion. While the schedule does need to be shortened, I’m not sure the injuries devalue this year’s WTF to a significant extent. As for the argument that the WTF is altogether useless, that’s a statement 5-time winners Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer would likely object to. For perspective’s sake, there was a time when the finals at Masters (including the WTF) were best-of-5 matches and none of the top seeds received first-round byes.
The question of the slower surface at the O2 arena is another contributor to the lackluster play this year, as was the case in Paris and Valencia. Notwithstanding the complaints about the schedule and the slower surfaces though, the remaining contenders–Federer, Tsonga, Ferrer, Berdych–will face off in the SF, which will hopefully bring out the best each player has to offer.