Tag Archives: Andy Murray

Novak at Paribas Masters: “…when will love be secure?”

13 Nov

Novak Paribas

(click)

My constantly frazzled tennis nerves usually get a rest between the US Open and Melbourne, but Djok beating Murray too in straight sets, even if only at Paribas — it’s getting kind of unnerving.  When your guy’s game is up and down, you worry about his consistency; when it’s become superhuman in the trail of wreckage it leaves behind, then, of course, you start wondering how long he can keep it up.  Such is the human condition.  Never satisfied.  Never at ease.  Never content.

Especially in love.  “When will labor be joyful? when will love be secure?” — Giosuè Carducci…I think…

From the Bleacher Report:

Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray 6-2, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Masters 2015 final to set a new record for Masters titles won in a single year, grabbing his sixth of the season, per tennis writer Carole Bouchard. The Serb already held the previous record of five, which was set in 2011. 

Djokovic dominated Murray from start to finish, once again showing why he’s considered one of the world’s best returners. Murray held his own in the rallies but never found his serve on the slower hard court in Paris.

Per Sky Sports, the Djoker has now beaten Murray 21 times in 30 meetings, and he’s still unbeaten on indoor hard courts against the Scot. Sunday’s win handed him his 58th career title, via bet365.

Djokovic has been in sensational form since the US Open and he instantly put heaps of pressure on Murray’s serve. Fans in Paris were treated to a 20-shot rally on just the second point, but it wasn’t a preview of what was to come.

Murray barely held his serve in the opening game, couldn’t even steal a point on Djokovic’s serve and immediately gave up three break points in the third game….

See the rest.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

“But there has rarely been a tennis champion more adept at absorbing pace and thwarting ambition than Novak Djokovic, particularly on a hard court.” — The New York Times

4 Sep

 

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Didn’t find the match nearly as exciting as the Times seems to have.  Both players seemed angry and irritable at having to start so late — the result of a four hour plus match where an impressive, and previously unknown to me, Kei Nishikori beat Stanislas Wawrinka — and by half way it had just become a game of physical and nervous attrition.  Happy result though. 

My call is Djoković and Federer again in final —  see if Nole can reproduce Wimbledon win.

Whole Times article: Novak Djokovic Defeats Andy Murray to Reach U.S. Open Semifinals

While The Bleacher Report both gushes and points out his weaknesses:

“He’s got a serve that’s efficient, if not blinding. He’s got incredible agility and tremendous speed. He runs down shots that seem irretrievable, shots that have the fans gasping—and then roaring.

If there is a weakness in his game, it may be a failure to put away an opponent. He had Murray beaten in the second set—or was Murray beating himself? After losing that set, Djokovic returned to display the skills he possesses.”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Becker says Nole is ready to beat Murray tonight

3 Sep

Novak Djokovic talks with his coach, Boris Becker, in New York in the build-up to the US OpenNovak Djokovic talks with his coach, Boris Becker, in New York in the build-up to the US Open at Flushing Meadows. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

See Gurdian’s — almost always the best tennis coverage of any major media outfit — story at: “Boris Becker, Novak Djokovic’s coach, plots Andy Murray’s US Open downfall”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

Why I love watching Rafael Nadal lose

3 Jul

“¡La envidia! Esta es la terrible plaga de nuestras sociedades; esta es la íntima gangrena del alma española.” — Miguel de Unamun0

‘Envy!  This is the terrible plague of our societies; it’s the intimate gangrene of the Spanish soul.” — Miguel de Unamuno

Nadal462026_Britain-Wimbledon-Tenni184Especially when he’s swept off the court like a bunch of dry leaves by an Australian teenager whose name we didn’t even know yesterday, a nineteen-year-old Nick Kyrgios — actually not swept: “bounced” as the Portland Press Herald put it, without having told Rafa that the ball’s supposed to do the bouncing, not him.

Of course, in NikoBakos dream world, it would’ve been a Djoković victory over Nadal, with Nole all done-up in Dmitriy Solunskiy-ish gear and the Catalan lanced and trampled underfoot like Kaloyan from icon representations, though that might have been granting Nadal a bit too much physical impressiveness.

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Then there’s this kind of stuff at the interview, no grace, no concession of skill: ‘the-my-loss-was-a-fluke’ school of sportsmanship.  “I didn’t have my lucky wristband on.”  Read the interview from smh.com.au, complete with another charming photo:

Rafael Nadal on Nick Kyrgios defeat: ‘Everything is a little bit easier when you are arriving’

Linda Pearce July 02, 2014

Rafael Nadal at his post-match press conference.

Rafael Nadal at his post-match press conference. Photo: Getty Images

London: Rafael Nadal was reluctant to declare Nick Kyrgios the next big thing in tennis, even as John McEnroe was suggesting that the wildcard who had beaten the world No.1 was capable of going all the way to the Wimbledon winner’s circle as a 19-year-old on debut.

“For me is very easy to say he can be top 10. I think he can do. Is not an issue that I think he can not do it,’’ said Nadal. “But when we see a young player that arrives to the tour and plays a great match or plays a great tournament, people say he will be the next big star.

“Some things are right — sometimes arrive, sometimes not. So depends how the things improve over the next couple of months, years, for him. So if he is able to keep improving, he will be. If not, will be more difficult.’’

Quite a sober analysis, then, even if the Kyrgios performance was defiantly not. The audacious Canberran kept belting his serve, and thumping his groundstrokes, time after time, In the end, it was Nadal who played more tightly, having won the second set and believing himself to be superior player in the third, but admitting he was outplayed on either side.

Youth helps, admitted the winner of 14 grand slam titles, and in this case the fearless nature of it outweighed his own vast reserves of experience.

“The sport is a mental part a lot of times,” said Nadal. “He has things, positive things, to be able to be a good player. But at the end, everything is a little bit easier when you are arriving. Everything is new. Nothing to lose. Everything is good. Everything is positive. You can do whatever and will be positive, and everybody see just the good things on you.’’

Meanwhile, a very weird Wimbledon, generally.  Nole takes out Stepanek, Tsongas and, in a rougher bout with an admittedly fiercer than I’ve yet to ever see him Marin Čilić, takes him out too.  The Roland Garros loss seems to have not fucked with Nole’s head one bit….μπράβο, έτσι σε θέλω.  Poor Murray, who I was sure would be the man here, is taken out by Grigor Dimitrov, who goes up against Djoković Friday: again scary — Dimitirov good on grass.
But pretty sure it’ll be Nole and Federer in the end, though Federer over Raonić is not that easy a call to make.  Nice…  It’s great to have a man you want to win, but to respect them both enough to not begrudge either victory if he deserves it.
DJOK!!!!!hi-res-5e910d1f3e9a9bceada6fc490de8fa37_crop_north
Do NOT miss The Guardian’s usual, biting, British vulture, peck-over of Nadal’s still not cold corpse.  Brilliant.  As in this vicious description of Nadal’s classic loser’s mug: “But this is where tennis gets tough, in the nuanced mind games, the time-wasting and grunts and glares and barely suppressed animosity that in some sports would incur censure. It is a beautiful game, but it can get ugly;his pettiness, his constant asking for the bathrooom pass.
Only thing is that Kyrgios seems such a pure and innocent kid that all the Catalan mal de ojo in the world just bounces right off him.
Australia's Nick Kyrgios celebrates winn
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios celebrates winning a game against Spain’s Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Why I can’t stand watching Rafael Nadal win

12 Jun

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I’m just going to come out and say this stuff and I’m sure not a few readers will end up considering me a quack or some quasi-Nietzschean fascist aestheticizer of things and never log on again. But, hey, that’s the price…

I’ll start with the most petty and irrelevant reasons. I have a serious repellent reflex towards Catalans. This is largely because I love Spain so much, and their anti-Spanishness really gets my goat. I find their Gallic delusions that they’re so much more European and Mediterranean and civilized than the rest of Spain to be insufferable. (And some day I’ll get around to dismantling the cult of “Mediterranean-ness” itself that’s grown since the 1980s and that I find a completely false and fabricated pop-multi-culti identity that grew out of tourist literature, the public relations campaigns of olive oil companies and a popular sprinking of Braudel, and nothing else. When even Turks start acting and feeling like they’re “Mediterraneans,” you know that a discourse is b.s. and needs to be taken apart; the extremeness of the hype surrounding Barcelona is part of this, and is why I love the gravitas and even crudeness of Madrid and Castille so much more deeply.)  I find Catalans’ noli me tangere squeamishness about how they shouldn’t have to suffer by being a part of this barbaric country of monarcho-fascists and Catholics and gypsies and bull-torturers to be racist pure and simple. They’re Iberian Croatians, in short. There are plenty out there who will get the analogy, I believe.

But none of that has any real bearing here.  And poor Rafa shouldn’t have to be the object of my scorn just because he’s Catalan; Ferrer is too and I think he’s one of the most compelling and wonderful to watch tennis players out there.

I simply hate watching Rafael Nadal win because he’s ugly.

And by ugly I don’t mean short and mousey-looking or that his thinning hair is always already a greasy mess from before the match has even started. I mean ugly with a lack of that kind of inner force that manifests itself as a visible form of athletic charisma and magic.

Since the beginning of institutional athletics in human civilization, meaning the Greeks, of course, we’ve always expected our athletes to partake of “some part of beauty.” To have something that made us feel, even if just partly, that a god were being incarnated here in this man, in our presence. “En-thusiasm” in English comes from the Greek ενθούς, ‘possessed by a god, inspired.”  Whether it’s the gorgeous dance of a great basketball or tennis player, or the weightlessness and super-human strength of a gymnast, or the painful duet of two wrestlers or martial artists of any kind, or just the sublime bulk of a rugby player or Olympic weightlifter, or the highly choreographed beauty of a good American football game (yes, it’s a beautiful, highly choreographed, strategically intricate game, much more compelling than…wait…let me swallow first…soccer), we need to experience this glow, which is not a conventional handsomeness or prettiness that I’m talking about, but the need to sense this power and this powerful yearning for glory and victory emanating out of this being, who we want to feel is slightly more just-above-human than the rest of us are.

You never feel any of that glow emanating from Rafael Nadal. It’s just the same cold, technically precise game and the same cold, pissy look on his mug: the most emotion we’re treated to is if things start going a little badly and the pissy mug just gets a little pissier. After the match, if you mute your set and if the score box isn’t showing on the bottom, you almost can’t tell if he’s won or lost. Just the same cold shaking of hands and greasy slinking off of the court.

TOPSHOTS Spain's David Ferrer returns aDavid Ferrer – Picture: AFP/Getty – (click)

Compare this to the elegant gentlemanliness of a Federer. Or the brute, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, clanking mediaeval long-swords game of a Valencian muscle-brick like Ferrer (above).  Or the young, beautifully British, sportsmanly hunger of Murray. And then there’s my dear, sweet Nole, of course, who in every endearing way is still a teenager of sorts, and may have the purest soul of any professional athlete out there. (Talk about “the tenderness of the warrior.”)  No matter what his rank or seed are, or how well his season has been going, he’s as desperately trying to keep his nervousness under control before a match as a young volunteer going into combat for his first engagement, because I think that that’s what he genuinely feels in his heart each time. And when things go badly, and he tragically can’t stop them from going even more badly, because, like an adolescent, he beats up on himself mercilessly because he feels like he’s failed to prove himself, failed to earn his “red badge,” he inspires the purest Aristotelian feelings of pity in me.* And yet, his dignity in defeat is always impeccable. And his howling glory in victory is all his own too. Lots of people don’t like that or feel it unsportsman-like. Trust me, Olympia was a scene of howling winners just like him – and probably then some.  Finally, the spectacular grace of Nole’s feel for his own body is unmatched by anyone in the sport.  Almost like a bullfighter, you sometimes feel he’s risking an easy point just for the gracia and and pure elegance of a braver, more dramatic play.

(And Michael Phelps…let’s not even go there.  See his tag box for posts on him if you want.)

novak-djokovic-volley (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

You feel no sense of any of that pathos or agon in Nadal’s game. None. So when Djoković loses to a man like Federer, or Ferrer – which I don’t think he ever has – or even Murray, I say helal olsun,** να’ν καλά ο άνθρωπος, he deserved it. And I don’t walk around with this churning feeling in my stomach for days afterwards.

But when Nole loses to a Rafael Nadal – I can feel the gods of our ancestors looking down and saying: “What the hell? This can’t be right…”

At least a big, Russian kouklara like Sharapova won the women’s…

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Maria Sharapova, Women’s Campion at Roland Garros 2014. (click)

See also July 3rd post: “Why I love watching Rafael Nadal lose.”

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* Aristotelian “Pity”In his Rhetoric, Aristotle defines “pity” thus: “Let pity, then, be a kind of pain in the case of an apparent destructive or painful harm of one not deserving to encounter it, which one might expect oneself, or one of one’s own, to suffer, and this when it seems near.”

Effing Greeks had said everything, hadn’t they?  Everything else is a footnote.

** “Helal olsun” means, roughly, “may it be blessed” in its mixed Arab-Turkish vocabulary.  This is where the Greek: “χαλάλι του” comes from, “it went to good cause, to deserving reason, good for him or her.”  The opposite is when somethings has gone “χαράμι” — haram — meaning gone to waste, not to blessed purpose, blown off into the wind, spent badly, made unusable by its having been defiled or tainted.  “Χαράμισα τα νιάτα μου” are lyrics you’ll hear in many Greek songs: “I made haram of my youth” — the implication usually being “with you.”

I was talking to a friend here about the term “Helal olsun” and she said that you could use it in Turkish the way you do in Greek, but also that at Muslim funerals the imam asks the gathered congregation if anyone has any outstanding grudges or feels he is owed something by the deceased, and the congregated reply — I don’t know if in unison or individually: “Helal olsun” — “No, may he be blessed,” (or maybe: “even if I do…helal olsun.”)  And I found that unbearably just and beautiful.  And something to remember when Christians feel we have a monopoly on mercy and forgiveness.  It’s the Quran that says that “Mercy is a greater virtue than justice.”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Nole: “…the world No. 2 is in the process of knocking his game into overdrive.”

29 Mar

(Sorry, but sometimes the Jadde is just gonna be the Nole Djokovic page for a few days….  Especially at times like this.  I know…there are more important things happening in the world, but sometimes the most important is, well…)

 

 

From The Bleacher Report:

Novak Djokovic’s Win over Andy Murray Isn’t Tainted by Bad Call

Novak Djokovic has gotten off to a relatively slow start this year, but the world No. 2 is in the process of knocking his game into overdrive.

Don’t let the fact that his victory over Andy Murray in the quarterfinals of the Sony Open was heavily assisted by a bad call fool you into thinking any differently.

Nole is 12-2 on the year, and he got his first tournament title of the year at Indian Wells in the last event. It is hard to knock that kind of start, but we’ve grown accustomed to Djokovic having multiple titles at this point of the year. This was the first time in four years he hasn’t won the Australian Open.

Apparently, that does not mean he is headed for a down year, and the Serb asserted his dominance against Murray.

See rest: Djokovic’s Win over Andy Murray”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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See…

10 Sep

This is what he does.  “Oh, it’s a nice day today.  I think I’ll play.”  And then takes a brute like Ferrer in a good match, but hardly an epic battle: 2-6 (yesterday’s set), 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 — and goes to the final tomorrow against Murray.

I gotta say one thing about my man Nole though, as petulant as he can be.  He’s the most gracious winner-or-loser, no matter what.  There’s always a sincere smile, an acknowledgement full of respect, and a warmth to his response to any match — the mark of a true athelete.  What he said about Ferrer today, before or after with the commentators, was such a (rightful) praise of Ferrer as a player that it left a lump in my throat.

Tomorrow is Murray, man.  I’ve made a solemn tama that I’ll have to fulfill if Djok wins.  Let’s see.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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