Apologies for not posting in the past week. I’d been away and am now catching up with life/work/tennis news. So what’s new?
USO Draw News & DelPo’s State:
The USO draw ceremony took place and DelPo landed in Djokovic’s quarter of the draw. He faces — wait for it — Nalby in R1, the winner of which will play the winner of Harrison-Becker in R2. For DelPo, his route to the final will likely look like this: Nalbandian, Harrison, Seppi, Pico, Djokovic, Ferru, Fed 0r Muzz. They crowded all the Argies into one quarter of the draw. Hardman Carlos Berlocq faces Bernie Tomic in R1, in the same quarter as DelPo.
The last time DelPo played Nalby was 2008 Paris, where Nalby defeated DelPo in straight sets with a second set bagel. Curiously, DelPo and Nalby have only played each other on HCs. Nalby has won 3 of his 4 encounters with DelPo and all 4 matches have been decided in straight sets. Despite Nalby’s streaky form of late, DelPo-Nalby in R1 will be a nailbiter.
In not unrelated news, Nalby recently filmed a deodorant commercial where he’s playing Davis Cup — at 0:04 in the ad, Nalby says, “Yo no abandono.” Then a supremely tall player appears to his right. Nalby doesn’t seek drama, it walks up to him. Nevertheless, this is pre-match intimidation of DelPo. I will commence frazzling now (my favorite part of the ad was at 0:17-0:18, when he gives the “stare”).
Given the proximity of the DC SF, I’m curious to see how Berdy plays his hand. I do not want Berdy to have a demoralizing early loss (he plays promising youngster and Fed acolyte David Goffin in R1) — because that could spark his fire and lead him to play well at DC, which is unacceptable. In conclusion, Berdy must therefore play well at the USO, so that he suffers from over-confidence and hence, loses his DC rubbers. However, Berdy has just reached the SF at Winston-Salem, which means we could have another playing-Dusseldorf-before-RG situation on our hands. Berdy possibly needs a scheduling consultant.
DelPo has not been practicing with his racquets, in order to protect his left wrist — instead, he’s focusing on physical training. DelPo will probably be the darkest of the dark horses at the USO, because of the question mark over his head (or his wrist). I’d say Ferru has a favorable draw, as he’ll likely play Tipsy for a spot in the SF.
The Fedipal Complex:
Steve Tignor at Tennis.com wrote an interesting piece about the “Fedipal complex” (he linked to an earlier blog post I’d written, where I wrote briefly about it). I like Tignor’s interpretations of Fed’s rivalry with this generation of players — I thought his description of the Muzz-Fed dynamic was spot-on and I think he gave a balanced analysis of the Fed-Rafa dynamic. Given how Fed has possibly been more outspoken about Muzz than the other players, the little bro-big bro dynamic seems like a very apt metaphor.
DelPo recently confirmed he will play Basel (Fed’s hometown). To continue the Fedipal metaphor, it was Fed who in 2006 gave then 18-year old DelPo a WC to play Basel, where DelPo reached the QF.
DelPo as an 18-y.o. in 2006 (Photo is from 2006 Roland Garros)
In 2012, DelPo will return to visit Father Fed in Basel. However, DelPo will also host Fed at the Tigre exho in Argentina this December — this is similar to a father visiting the son’s home for the first time, right? Not to worry! For DelPo keeps a (relatively) tidy kitchen. He even shops for his own produce. Fed will be impressed, of this I am certain. He must be impressed. Fedelpo will then sit back on the couch and watch a DVD of their Olympic SF (only the first set, because hey, there’s plenty of other stuff on the ARG travel itinerary too!)
The WTA “Strong is Beautiful” campaign:
The WTA’s latest ad campaign has sparked many interesting debates. My two cents: There’s nothing inherently wrong with their slogan, “Strong is Beautiful.” There’s a part of tennis that focuses on the aesthetics. There’s a reason why I’d rather watch Gasquet than Roddick 10/10 times, even when Gasquet is permanently planted 5 feet behind the baseline. Even when I know Roddick will very likely be remembered as the more accomplished player. But how could I not tune into Reeshie’s BHs, or those moments he hits his stride in a match (featuring his ever rare FHDTL winners)? Yet, at the end of the day, isn’t that a superficial reason to watch a player? If he hits all those pretty shots and still loses a match, why do I keep watching Reeshie? The “superficial” component applies to the men as well. It’s pointless to deny it.
The problem with the WTA ad is that beauty takes precedence over strength. The very fact that they recruited very prominent figures (Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Aretha Franklin among them) to market the WTA, undersells the WTA — the ad should convince the audience that the product speaks for itself. Instead, it feels like they’re compensating for something — which is confusing, because the WTA has plenty of storylines that are calling for praise. I could only shrug by the time Rory McIlroy said, “Strong is Caroline.”
When fans look at the way Serena Williams came back from a life-threatening condition that forced her to take a long break, to win Wimby and then Olympic gold in singles and doubles, that’s an instance where “Strong is Beautiful” rings true. Same for Venus Williams, who overcame her immune system condition to win doubles gold. I preface every Sharapova mention with the fact that I personally do not like her, but her comeback from shoulder injury is another validation that “Strong is Beautiful” (even as I am still in denial about the fact that she has a Career Grand Slam). Why not draw focus to those examples?
What’s most baffling is the fact that actor Stanley Tucci stars in the ad — if they included Tucci, doesn’t that mean the ad people should be culturally sensitive enough to know that you don’t sell the WTA by portraying them as passive objects of beauty (as determined by figures like Donald Trump?) Doesn’t Tucci play the devoted husband (Julie & Julia) or at leasts, a shrewd observer of people (Devil Wears Prada) in just about movie he stars in? (He’s an actor who’s featured in more movies than I ever realized).
** I still haven’t done the write-up for DelPo’s Olympics SF, but I will write one up before the USO starts. I think it will be fitting way to build up our expectations for the last Slam of the year!