Tag Archives: Radek Stepanek

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

What…A…Fucking…GUY!

28 Jun

And can I get a witness please…  Like, several.  Because I have some big time testimony to make…

Read the Fox piece below ( I know — what are you gonna do?)

From now on I promise, Lord, that next time anybody disses Nole as a baby or a Balkan-wild-man clown, or unprofessionally erratic, or as uncoolly displaying too much emotional investment in his game (like…huh?).  Or as anything else even, other than a noble, generous, chivalrous, sportsmanlike, kick-ass athlete that shows up once a decade if we’re lucky in any sport — a knight, a fighter, a caballero, a steel-balled Kosovar and a man Russians would anoint with their highest possible compliment: “Broad-souled” (and yeah, yeah, of course, a Serb and gorgeous, we know), he’s gonna have to have me to deal with.  So help me God AND praise the Lord.  Amen.

And this is at Wimbledon too — where he knows he’s probably not gonna get to the top anyway and it takes heart to give away even tiny potential advantages like this.  HEART.

062514-TENNIS-Radek-Stepanek-of-Czech-Republic-hugs-Novak-Djokovic-PI.vadapt.955.medium.0Steve Bardens / Getty Images Europe

Novak Djokovic opts for ‘fair play’ during win over Radek Stepanek

 

The Centre Court match at Wimbledon featured only two service breaks, but wait, there was much, much more:

* Novak Djokovic giving away a point to Radek Stepanek that could have been replayed following an over-rule on a line call during a crucial time in the match, a move seldom seen in tennis.

* Stepanek cutting his right knee on one of his dozen or so falls on the grass during the 3-hour, 17-minute second-round match Wednesday.

* And on the final point of the match, a successful challenge by Djokovic on a call originally called out, with Stepanek getting down on his hands and knees in a prayer pose.

“Today in the challenges I was so unlucky, a millimeter here, a millimeter there,” Stepanek said. “I guess I hoped and I prayed that one time it will go with me.”

It didn’t. Djokovic’s forehand cross-court pass was ruled in after the video replay showed the ball landed on the line. Djokovic completed a 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) win. The two players, good friends and frequent practice partners, hugged at the net.

The third-set tiebreaker featured each player winning five points in a row — Djokovic to take a 5-2 lead, only to have Stepanek come back to take it 7-5.

“I was two sets up, I had some break-point chances in the third and should have closed it out in the third-set tiebreak,” Djokovic said. “But credit to him for fighting. He’s 35 years old and still moving very well and surface wise grass is probably his most preferred. He loves to engage the crowd.”

That Stepanek did, with his give-it-all style of play swaying the Centre Court spectators his way late in the match. Stepanek repeatedly made unsuccessful challenges on line calls. When he finally got one right, he looked up to the skies in relief.

Stepanek said he couldn’t recall ever falling down so many times in a match.

“Maybe not, but that’s the way I play on grass, you have a little bit of comfort,” he said. “But that’s how I play anyway, with my heart.”

Stepanek said he was surprised by Djokovic’s gesture to give him the point. At 5-all in the third set, Djokovic had a game point on his serve when Stepanek hit a backhand that was called long. After Stepanek successfully challenged the call, Djokovic conceded the point even though it could have been replayed.

“That’s why I asked the whole crowd to clap,” Stepanek said. “It was incredible sportsmanship, and it proves just what a great champion he is.”

Djokovic played down the move.

“For me it’s just natural, just something that is normal to do,” he said. “I felt like I had no chance to play that ball, (so) of course I would concede the point. I’ve done it a few times in the past. OK, yes, the point was very important. …

“Nevertheless, I think it’s fair play. It’s something that I would expect my opponent to do for me. It doesn’t happen very often, unfortunately.”  [my emphases]

“And Novak breaks back, not unexpected…”

14 May

Djokhi-res-d87c36c0fa038724cb20bc3e3ea25f57_crop_north

From the Bleacher Report:

“The fact that Djokovic had to work for the win was actually a positive in that it forced him to dig deep and get back in the swing of things. [My emphasis]  Now the Djoker will be faced with the challenge of progressing in the Rome Masters and getting properly prepared for the French Open.”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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