Toronto Last Call

Sunday, August 15, 2010 /by
103387895 [[Pete is on vacation from today until Wednesday, the 18th. He'll be back with a post on Thursday.]]

By Jackie Roe, TW Contributing Writer


Hey there, TWibe. Are you pumped for today's final? I'll be in attendance at Federer-Murray in Toronto, then heading straight to Cincinnati for more live tennis action. Stay tuned to TW for my daily reports in the Queen City.

Before I preview today's final, I thought I'd give you a run-down of all that's happened here since I posted last (in Friday's Deuce Club):

Friday, 8/13

(Unfortunately, I spent much of the afternoon in the press room, wrapping up the DC, so I didn't catch all of the action. Apologies for the gaps in match coverage.)

Centre Court for Murray-Nalbandian. Rooting (silently, of course) for Nalbandian but good to see Muzz playing so cleanly and not getting down on himself.

Caught the beginning of Nadal-Kohlschreiber. Not surprised about Rafa's slow start - not the first time that's happened. Left shortly after it started to write so I can't say how either guy played. Check out Steve's post on the match for more.

Murray presser. When I first attended one of these, back in Cincinnati, my most salient impression was how nervous he was. Still the case: Poor eye contact, hands in hoodie pockets, serious. Called the match one of the best he's played all year.

Nalbandian presser. Demeanor not altogether different from the last one, despite the different results. Still open, easy-going. Said he feels tired, but would be fine in a few days. Arrived to the ball more slowly because of the fatigue.

Federer-Berdych.

  • Missed the first set as I was still in the press room. Expected it to be more competitive at the outset, but not so. Beth left this message for me in the DC, which is funny in retrospect: "If you don't hurry out there, Jackie, Federer is gonna be done. He is on a mission, from what it looks like via scoreboard."
  • Intense. Fed with emphatic "Come on!" in the second set.
  • Berd didn't look 100% physically. Movement a little labored, maybe?
  • Loads of crowd support for Berd in the second set. Fans wanted more tennis!
  • Described the last game of the second set - when Berd broke to even up the match - as "odd." Fed double-faulted twice, then the awful shank at set point. Happened in the blink of an eye; it was like an accelerated version of his typical mid-match walkabout (i.e. going to Mirka Land).
  • Third set - both guys beating the felt off the ball.
  • When Berd hits his stride and has his mojo/confidence flowing, he's intimidating. Develops almost a swagger, actually feels like he belongs. Gone are the days when you trusted he'd collapse in any pressure-packed situation. (Later in the third set, I added a "Okay, maybe not.")
  • Obvious how much this match means to Fed. Another big "Come on!" to go up 0-40 on Berd's serve at 1-1 in the 3rd. Only to squander them all, as is typical for Fed.
  • The game at 5-3 was when all hell started to break loose. Waves of applause for Fed, urging him to break. Every point won by Fed met by deafening applause and a standing ovation.
  • Then my notes just became a mess. This is what I have: Heart attack! Fed BP. Wasted. Another. Wasted. And another. Wasted. And another. CONVERTS! This place is a madhouse.
  • The unruly crowd surprised me. Isn't impoliteness a felony in Canada," as Codge said? I hated when the guy yelled, "Berdych, are you nervous?" in a mocking tone. At least it only seemed to fire him up. Saw on Twitter that the crowd's antics were obvious on TV. What did you guys think? (There was one funny moment, though. When Lars Graff said "Thank you" to quiet the crowd, a guy called out, "You're welcome!" There was so much laughter that Berd had to step off the service line.)
  • I realized this was the most nervous I'd ever been watching live tennis.
Met up with Sher again - and met Grant for the first time! We didn't get to chat much since I was about to fall over from starvation, unfortunately.

Federer presser. Re: that "odd" game, Fed said the transition from day to night was rough. Hmm. Appeared a tad irritated, but maybe he was just tired.

I missed Berdy's presser so I could finally get food. But Mariya at TalkAboutTennis.com said that it was tough to sit through, as he was almost beside himself with disappointment.

Saturday, 8/14

Cermak/Mertinak vs. Benneteau/Llodra on Centre.
  • Bendra are uncannily in sync with one another. Was easy capturing them on camera since they seemed to never be more than a few feet away from each other, mirroring the other's movements.
  • Cermak/Mertinak are like twins, too. When receiving, they act out the same routine in unison (take a few steps, kick last leg, step back).
  • It's been said countless times but I'll repeat it again anyway - live dubs is incredible. Exciting, engaging, fun.
  • Shallow observation of the match: I wish all dubs pairs dressed in the same outfits, like Bendra.
Nadal-Murray up.
  • Whenever I watch Rafa, I catch myself literally gasping at his shots. I don't know that I do that with anyone else.
  • From the very beginning, Rafa didn't look like himself ... playing too passively.
  • Murray looked focused, dialed in, and even postive. None of the dour/whiny stuff we saw in the Monfils match. Served increasingly better as the set went on.
  • At 4-4 in the second set, it started to sprinkle; fortunately, the match ended shortly thereafter.
  • Rafa gave a look of resignation after a wind-induced UFE at 5-4 in the second. I can't remember the last time I saw that kind of a look from him.
Murray presser. He looked more relaxed than he did yesterday, but still far from comfortable. Speech is monotone, slow, measured. (I guess I'd appear that way, too, if I had to reckon with the British press.) Said he actually likes being aggressive and more offensive - I wish he'd do that more often!

Nadal presser. Looked great in green, came in munching on a snack. Clearly not too bent out of shape over the loss. Called his serve the "worst thing in [his] game today" and noted that he didn't practice that particular part of his game much because that's how he injured his abs last year. Also said that he was slower than usual and that he needs to improve his backhand, since he had to "think too much" when playing those shots during the match. When asked how he's feeling now vs. a year ago, he responded with "I never like comparations." Perfect response

Federer-Djokovic next.
  • The crowd energy was off the charts before the first ball was even played.
  • Nole was clearly edgy at the start; changed his racquet after his first service game (was broken).
  • Nole already looked spent by the fifth game. Atrocious serving. (Remember how he served back in '08? My, how things have changed.)
  • Confident and crisp Fed. Nole trying to be more aggressive on the return but generally looked sluggish, defeated, pained. Couldn't buy a first serve.
  • Momentum shift in the second, with the crowd trying to pump up Nole. It worked.
  • Noticed that Fed wasn't as expressive today as he was yesterday. No loud "Come on"s (until late in the third). Did the Berd match affect him more emotionally? Psychologically? Or perhaps not ... just a different match, different conditions, different crowd.
  • After Fed squandered a boatload of break point opportunities, I scribbled down, "Fed's gonna get broken now, huh." What do you know, I was right. The one time I didn't want to be.
  • Fed's little exhalation before serves is much more apparent in real life than on TV. Which also makes it more disconcerting.
  • "The fat lady is still warming up her pipes." I wrote that when Nole broke back at 2-4. Kind of sums up that last set.
  • Overall, it wasn't a great match, quality-wise. Still, the drama of the third set was worth the price of admission.
Djokovic presser.
  • This may have been my very first Nole presser, at any tournament. Anxious to see him in that context in real life.
  • Looked very "king of the castle" in the chair, with both arms on the arm rests and legs spread apart.
  • Confident speaker. Articulate. Thoughtful analysis of the match and his/Fed's games. Likable. Charismatic. Not negative, like I had expected after the loss.
  • Was unsatisfied with all of the unforced errors but overall felt that the tournament was a success.
Federer presser.
  • Re: Murray, knew from the first time he played him in Bangkok, he'd be one of the best in the world.
  • What did Nole say to Fed at the net? That he should've won earlier! Fed described Nole as a"good sport."
  • Fed was asked about how his relationship with Annacone was going. His response: "It's very romantic." Quote of the tournament. (His real answer was that he's taking it week by week, that Annacone might not be in Cincy since Severin will be there.)

And now we've arrived at the final, between Federer and Murray. My thoughts:

  • Muzz has shown fine form, particularly in his last two matches. He described both as being one of the best he's played all year. Fatigue won't be a problem.
  • Fed showed some rust early but winning two tough 3-setters in a row should do wonders for his confidence. Particularly the victory over Berd, who's had his number. Still, have these matches taken their toll? Even Fed alluded to this in his presser last night, saying, "Hopefully I won't be too banged up." Even if that's the case, this Fed fan is glad he got the match play.
  • Looking forward to a competitive match. Murray leads the H2H at 6-5, but Fed took their last three matches. I don't have a clue what the outcome will be, but I'm just glad I get to witness it.

This is where you should be to call the Toronto final. Enjoy it, guys! (I'm flying to Cincy this evening, and will be posting from there the next few days. Make sure to check out my reports here, and for some added coverage, follow me on Twitter, @JackieRoe.)

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