Wednesday, August 30, 2017

US Open Day 2: The Old Firm

Hi All. Galileo here.

The Old Firm is a derby played in Scotland, between Rangers and Celtic. Of course, you probably know that. Living in England does not always give a good idea of how popular certain cultures or even how common certain knowledges are elsewhere. Before this BACKSPINNER went to the United States he thought Guantanamo Bay was near San Francisco. It does explain why the Cubans are upset.

Anyway, there are rivalries, there are grudge matches and there are teams that have always hated one another. But some rivalries go beyond sibling - some are woven into the very culture of a country. Boston vs. New York and all that entails. Melbourne vs. Sydney. Oilers vs. Flames. Lakers vs. Celtics. England and France. And in tennis we have Federer and Nadal. They are synonymous with tennis. It is a phrase I have heard used, in a manner similar to 'chalk and cheese.'

One of the nicest things about the rivalry is the fact they get on. They laugh together [we've all seen the what are you gonna get me for Christmas clip] and play together. It really is perfect. And they have played everywhere with two notable exceptions - the US Open and the Olympics.

And this year we might get a matchup between two men who have a combined age of 70. We might get a matchup between two players who played against Agassi, Hewitt at his peak, Kuerten and even Sampras. If you combined all their body parts that were healthy you'd have a fully functioning human being. It is funny that with all the injuries Nadal has had his back hasn't ever been an issue.

Enough time-wasting. We get to look at two matches. Lucky us.

U.S. Open Suicide Picks:
WS 1r: Garcia d. Martincova {W}
WS 2r: Sakkari d. Ar.Rodionova
MW: Dimitrov d. Safranek

...Dusan Lajovic is on form. He is on courts that suit him. Rafa is not and he is on courts that do not suit him. The Serb breaks early and leads 3-1. He holds onto the lead. At 3-5 30-30 it looks like this will have to go four or even five. But Nadal is Nadal. The reason he is such a great player isn't just in his stroke play or his indomitable will. He doesn't go away. Gulbis goes away. Gasquet goes away. Even Tsonga and Wawrinka can go away. But Nadal, and Federer, never let you have anything. You have to take it. And Lajovic couldn't. He couldn't break during deuce and he couldn't serve it out. He managed to drag it to a breaker. That's impressive in itself. But Rafa took a 3-0 lead...yet somehow back came the Serb, and he leveled it at 6-6, after Rafa double faulted on set point. After that it just got easy for Nadal. He took the next two sets at a canter, 6-2, 6-2. 33-34 on the winners stat and three of four points won at the net. He was done in two and a quarter hours. It was a good match and a solid win for the Spaniard. And had that been the first match on Ashe it would've been a nice appetizer. Also, while I'm here, we at BACKSPIN love the pink bandana.
...We all knew it would be tough. We know what Tiafoe can do and we know that Federer's back is not spectacular right now. And Fed himself is also not spectacular right now. He was pretty flat for the first set of the final match of Day 2 on Arthur Ashe. With Tiafoe playing at the top of his game it was always going to be tricky. The American's backhand was surprisingly effective, the shot and decision making were all good. But the whole time you were waiting for Fed to find his way. He had a couple of matches at Wimbledon where he looked human. In the second and third sets he dominated. He broke Tiafoe's backhand and serve. He flowed, he chipped and his forehand came back. With the scores at 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 it looked like the momentary blip would be only that. But Fed is an old man now. He cannot be relied on as he used to. He is no longer the supremely fit force he was. And he went away again in the fourth set. At 1-2 40-40, an epic rally ensued with Tiafoe's defensive skills eventually forcing Fed into going for a big backhand. It didn't come off and he eventually lost his serve. After that the fourth set went pretty quickly. Fed threw it away, losing badly 6-1. But could he find anything in the decider? Yes. Fed broke in the fourth game and cruised to a 5-3 lead. He even had a match point at 40-30. But Tiafoe wasn't done. He broke again. But the Swiss found some spare magic up his sleeve in the final game. He got up 15-40 on the Tiafoe serve. On his third match point he won the 157 minute match. He needs to cut down on the 56 errors and cut up on the 41 winners. But he has time to rest and recover before a possible clash with Youzhny.

How does he feel?


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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