Well furry and fluffy friends, sometimes a kitty needs to take a break from the day to day routine of taking naps, grooming, snacking and chasing string and go on vacation. About this time each summer, I get a hankering to feel the sand between my toes, dip my paws in the ocean and soak up that summer sun!
And that’s exactly what I did last week! Consequently, I missed the start of grass court season! So when I got back yesterday and tuned in to the Halle Open and the Queen’s Club Championship, I didn’t know if I needed to adjust my TV screen or just my eyes! The courts are now green instead of the red clay I’ve been watching for the past couple of months, AND Roger Federer got a haircut!
What didn’t change was Federer’s dominance this year, and specifically on grass. He played Sascha Zverev, the young 20 year old German who is on track to be the “next big thing” in the championship match this morning at the Halle Open. It took Federer a big whopping 52 minutes to win the final in straight sets, his 9th title at the Halle Open. That was barely long enough for Zverev to tie his crazy headband on!
Meanwhile in London, Feliciano Lopez played an incredibly close three set match against Marin Cilic to win the title at the Queen’s Club. Lopez had his parents in the audience today, so I always think it’s interesting to see what the parents are like. Are they track suit wearing, sponsor label walking ad types or just ordinary folk? Much to my purrfect delight, they were just an ordinary mom and dad, watching nervously as their 35 year old son played his best to win a title! I can imagine the number of matches they had to watch over the years, the celebration of victories and the disappointment of defeat. The life of tennis parents.
Well folks, Wimbledon starts a week from now!
To honor the grass court season, here’s a little poem:
Ode to Grass
The courts are green
With grass so mean.
The ball stays low
So don’t run slow.
Bend your knees to hit it
Or you might just miss it.
An unpredictable bounce
Causes a player to pounce.
I can only imagine those were the thoughts of Stan Wawrinka as he stood across the net from the 9 time French Open champ, Rafa Nadal. Nadal…who has played an absolute flawless clay court season this year, who was going for a record breaking 10th French Open title today. Rafa already broke his own records this year by winning his 10th title in Monte Carlo and his 10th title in Barcelona. His record on clay goes on and on.
And it’s not like Stan Wawrinka is some snuffleupagus. Even though he is often considered the under cat, he has won three majors, one of those being the French Open in 2015. He’s built like a brick house and has the best one handed backhand on tour. But he had no answers against Rafa today. It wouldn’t have mattered who Rafa played today, he would have made them look like a wobbly slinky, stuck in the mud with no one to give him a push down the stairs.
Stan won a mere 6 games out of the entire match. Final score: 6-2, 6-3, 6-1. The only thing we can do now is look ahead…next week starts the grass court season. What….you don’t know about tennis on grass? Stay tuned for next Sunday’s Slice! I might even be moved to write more poetry!
Til then, kitties and friends…
Remember that song from the 70’s “Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary MacGregor? You know…
Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving you both
Is breaking all the rules
Well, that’s how I felt watching the Rafa Nadal/Dominic “Sweep the Leg” Thiem semi-final match today. You’ve got Rafa dominating this clay court season; clearly the favorite. Then you have Dominic Thiem, the underdog for sure. But he just beat the defending champ, Novak Djokovic, in the QF, and he’s the only player who has beaten Rafa this clay court season. So there is always a chance for an upset.
Alas my friends, it was not meant to be. As I settled in on the sofa next to my human, I was trying to be a dignified tennis cat. Sitting politely, grooming myself, paying attention, trying to enjoy the match. But next to me sat my human and all I could hear was a stream of “Oh noooo, Oh Lord, damn, Lordie be, oh for goodness sake.” And then it got quieter with a lot of non-verbals, murmurs of “uhhh”, some head shaking, and finally face palms.
And this is how my human sat and watched Dominic Thiem get slaughtered by the King of Clay, Rafa Nadal. 6-3, 6-4, 6-0
There is a song by Patty Griffin called “When It Don’t Come Easy.” This has got to be Thiem’s theme song when he plays Nadal.
Sorry Dominic, but today was just not your day, and even though I’m thrilled for Nadal, and I still really sad for you. See you on the grass courts…
Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Don’t sneeze or snooze for a quick catnap or it will be over! I’m talking about the quarterfinal match today between Dominic “Sweep the Leg” Thiem and defending champ, Novak Djokovic.
Three sets is all it took for the Thiem to win. 7-6, 6-3, 6-0. And let me tell you, it was a tennis clinic if I ever saw one. Dominic had a strategy and executed it perfectly. This was a rematch from just weeks before where Djokovic won in three sets. Dominic came out and attacked the ball early, hit heavy forehands and backhands across the court, ran for every drop shot at the net. It was really a thing of beauty. And with his fantastic hair blowing in the wind…well it was picture perfect!
Here’s a quick tip for the casual tennis observer. When you watch a match, it really just looks like two guys standing on opposite sides of the net, hitting the ball back and forth. Next time you watch, pay attention to where the player is standing in relation to the baseline (the line in the back of the court). If they are standing inside, is their opponent standing far back from their baseline? If so, this typically means they are being more aggressive…taking the ball earlier, forcing their opponent to scoot back to return the ball. Who wins that point? Likely the player playing more aggressively.
Well, furry friends, Dominic Thiem gets to play Rafa Nadal in the semis. I’m sorry Sweep the Leg, but that’s just the luck of the draw. But don’t be too discouraged….Thiem is the ONLY player to beat Nadal during this year’s clay court season. And besides, I’m calling Dominic as the French Open dark horse!
The 2017 French Open has really been shaping up to be two sides of the same coin. Maybe a little Jeckle and Hyde? Week one was full of emotional drama – tons of personal interest stories. Week two is getting down to the business of tennis.
Week one drama:
- We marveled at the comeback of Petra Kvitova who was stabbed during an attack during a home invasion just months earlier. The damage to her hand was so severe, the doctor didn’t know if she would be able to hold a racquet again, much less compete. Remarkably, she made it to the second round before being knocked out by US qualifier, Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
- We cheered, wept and openly grieved with Stevie Johnson, as he returns to competition after losing his father just weeks before the French Open. Surprisingly, he made it all the way through to round three before meeting up with Dominic “Sweep the Leg” Thiem. After an emotional second round match, he was spent, so I was not surprised that he had nothing left during the third round match.
- David Goffin, the 10th seed in the men’s draw, sprained his ankle while sliding on the clay to get a ball, getting his leg caught up in the folded tarp at the back of the court. He had to be carried off court by two guys because he couldn’t put any weight on his leg. I don’t know how this injury will effect the rest of his year. Certainly, he won’t be at Wimbledon, but hopefully back by the US Open?
Week two business:
- Will Rafa Nadal win his 10th French Open title? His game has been practically purrfect!
- Or will adding Andre Agassi to Novak Djokovic‘s coaching box help him defend his title?
- Who will win the women’s title? Every player left has never one a grand slam title.
- My dark horse pick in the men’s draw is Dominic Thiem! He has been so solid on the clay this year, I think he has a shot for the title!! Sweep the leg, Dominic!!
- My dark horse pick in the women’s draw is Karolina Pliskova. She’s currently ranks around 3-5, but as I predicted earlier this year, I see her as a top seed! #1 for Pliskova, please.
Week two, here we go! Let’s see what happens!
Rafa Nadal turns 31 years old today! Feliz cumpleaños, my friend!
Yes, his birthday always aligns with the French Open! Purrfectly fitting since he has won 9 French Open titles already and is currently on track to win his 10th next week!
And even with guns like that, it was amusing to see him struggle with opening a gift from the Tennis Channel. Let me set the scene…
Rafa graciously agrees to come in to the TC’s Lacoste lounge to do an interview (on his birthday, no less, smh). They chat with him about his dominance during this French Open when he humbly says “I don’t know if I’m the favorite or not.” Umm, OK Rafa, whatever. Then the President of the TC comes over and hands him a box wrapped in bright blue paper tied up with thin curly ribbon. You know the kind of ribbon…the kind where when you pull it to try and break it, it only gets thinner and tighter and so you eventually just reach for the scissors and cut it loose. I saw this and I thought for sure Rafa is going to be able to snap that apart in one swift pull. Nope, Rafa is human! He couldn’t break it and simply slid it aside without breaking a sweat. Inside, a fancy fishing reel! He proclaims “I’m going to catch a big one and send a picture.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAFA! Enjoy your day off and good cat wishes to you for the rest of the tournament!