Male concern for {tennis} balls – Rafa versus Djokovic 2012

Having just spent some mindless hours watching various Roland Garros 2012 tennis matches on the television, there are two things that drive me bonkers. The first are Rafa Nadal’s incessant superstitious ticks.  The hair tuck, the nose wipe, the shirt tuck, the jock strap fix and the ball bouncing.  It’s bad on the 1st serve.  It’s OTT on the second serve.

Ticks of Nadal, The Myndset Digital Marketing Strategy

The second issue I have is a more generalized habit of dropping balls by ALL the men on the tennis pro tour.  In case you [general public] didn’t know, the balls are renewed every seven games (16 new balls at a time, at least on the ATP).  Granted they hit the ball hard, but that’s pretty good service.  That said, you know that the habit of selecting the most lively balls has gone overboard when the players  do the same farcical act with the brand new balls as well.  Below, we have (literally) a screen grab of Rafa playing Djokovic in the Roland Garros 2012 finals.

Rafael Nadal, Three balls, The Myndset Brand Strategy

The thing that got me riled up is that the first service percentage for both players in the men’s final was near or below 50%; so the real impact of the “best” ball was absolutely negligible.  But, the second thought was that the women — even in Sharapova’s noisy and historic final — do not go through the same song and dance of selecting the best ball before every service.  They just get on with the game.  Hurray.

I would like to ban this ridiculous, petulant, if not arrogant, selecting of the best balls.  After all, once the ball is in play, it’s the same for both players.  Secondly, I would wish the voodoo of ticks were less indicative of success!

Oh, and a final hat tip to Djoko for his sportsmanlike conduct when he acknowledged that a ball was miscalled out and over-ruled the “rules” to allow the point to be awarded to Nadal (in the 2nd set).  Wish we could see more sportsmanship like that (and forget the racquet throwing!).

Tennis Wimbledon 2008 Winners

The grass may have slowed Wimbledon down, but the epics kept coming.

As with virtually any Wimbledon fortnight that I have known, there was a bit of rain to slow down the event. But, this year, the ‘new’ grass Wimbledon 2008which was introduced in 2001 just seemed to make the bounce rather too regular. According to this June 18, 2008, Time Magazine article (or Boschendal’s Wine Blog), the new grass is 100% perennial rye (rather than a mix of 70% perennial and 30% creeping red fescue). If English sense of humour is dry, then Wimbledon’s is rye. And the court’s speed means baseliners are ruling the day. Of course, it is true that a decade ago, at times, it felt like the serve-and-volley (Sampras, Ivanisevic…) was too expeditious.

Rafa Nadal wins Wimbledon 2008As slow and predictable as the grass may have been, the standout match — and another thrilling epic between the two men — was the amazing five-set men’s final between Roger Federer (#1) and Rafael Nadal (#2). Nadal jumped to a 2-0 set lead, which was erased by a combatant Federer to even up the match 2-2 with two consecutive serious tie-breaker sets. In the end, Nadal managed the momentum reversal, overcame 3 failed match point conversions in the fourth set, several rain delays, and eeked out a monumental 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 win. Nadal won 209 points to Federer’s 204. Each had 13 breakpoint opportunities, with Nadal capitalizing on 4 of them to Federer’s one. While sending out 25 aces, Federer also committed 52 unforced errors (to 27 for Nadal). Therein lies the rub. Thus endeth Nadal’s Wimbledon drought and Federer’s magnificent run of 65 straight victories and 5 consecutive titles.

One of the other highlight finals of Wimbledon 2008 will surely be the wonderful men’s doubles, won by the Canadian doubles veteran, Dan Nestor with his partner Nenad Zimonjic (2nd seeds), overcoming Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyet (8th seeds) 7-6,6-7,6-3,6-3 (who earlier had dispatched the #1 seeded Bryan brothers in the semi-finals in a tight-as-can-be 7-6,5-7,7-6,7-6 victory). Nestor and Zimonjic pulled off the first set 14-12 in the first tie-break.

Women’s Results

On the women’s side, the singles final came down, one more time, to the Williams sisters. [And, so too did the women’s doubles title.] Venus (#7) toppled her younger sister Serena (#6) 7-5, 6-4 to take her fifth singles title. Venus’ draw wasn’t particularly difficult, but to her credit she never dropped a set. It was the 7th time the sisters have met in a Grand Slam Final, with Serena having won the grand majority ever since Venus’ 2001 win at Wimbledon, including Serena’s two championship wins in the last two sisterly confrontations at Wimbledon. In the women’s doubles, the 11th seeded Williams’ beat 16th seeded Lisa Raymond USA and Samantha Stosur AUS 6-2,6-2.

And in the other final featuring sibling rivalry (the Byran brothers), Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur (loser in the women’s doubles) upset top-seeded twin brother Mike Bryan and Slovakia’s Katarina Srebotnik in the mixed doubles in straight sets 7-5, 6-4.

All England’s Tournament was another fine fortnight of famous fights– despite the grass.