I’m a fan! Honestly, Clay Court Season…a HUGE fan! So much so that this year, I forewent my usual Ode to Clay poetry and jumped straight into a Fan Letter!
You may be wondering, “Why the fanfare, Frazier?”
Well, I’ve always enjoyed the clay court season. You break up the monotony of hardcourts, which are played for the rest of the season, with the exception of the very short grass court season that leads up to Wimbledon. You give me something different to look at. The style is different. You see red (sometimes green) courts, long slides into shots, lots of topspin, and the surprise, “gotcha”, drop shots that fall just over the net, leaving the opponent running from deep behind the baseline, to get it.
You are the great equalizer, Clay Courts. It takes special skills to be successful on clay, and not everyone has them. It’s difficult to find a player whose games translates to all three surfaces well. We need look no further than to the King of Clay, himself, Rafa Nadal. Although he’s had success on other surfaces, no one will argue he is the greatest clay court player of all time.
Last year, the pandemic really did a number on the Clay Court Season. Most of the tournaments were cancelled or postponed, with the French Open being played AFTER the US Open, in Fall! That is literally unheard of! And yet, it was heard of! It really had me messed up!
So this year, I am going to celebrate you! Every topspin-fueled baseline rally, to every finessed drop shot. Every slide, every awkward bounce, every time the chair umpire has to get out of his perch from above to examine a ball mark. All of it!! Because I’ve missed you and I’m glad you’re back!
Yesterday, I spent an entire day at the O2 Arena in London and it was a-meowzing!
OK, maybe I wasn’t there in purrson, but can’t a kitty dream?
It was the semi-finals, with back to back, world class, best of the best, tennis determining who will be playing this year’s finals and I didn’t miss a minute of it!
The doubles matches did not disappoint! Koolhof/Mektic won quite handily against Granollers/Zeballos. Koolhof never cooled off, but instead brought the heat, taking them down in two sets. The afternoon match between Ram/Salisbury and Melzer/Roger-Vesellin was a different story. This match had everything, and went to a deciding 11-9 tiebreak to determine the winners, Melzer/Roger-Vesselin.
Then there were the singles! It was really just as one would hope…numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 competing to be the year-end best!
First up, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem.
If you don’t know Dominic Thiem’s name yet…(and if you follow my blog), then shame on you! Now is the time to get to know him. He’s played in three grand slam finals and won his first grand slam this year at the US Open. He was the runner up at this event last year and he is a real steam roller! He’s built like a brick, has the best one handed back hand on tour, and is relentless on court. He’s been a favorite of mine for year! Trust me. Get to know him!! You’ll like him.
Anyway, back to the match. It was really just one amazing point after another from both Djokovic and Thiem. So close, like every point was determining the other’s fate. It went to three sets, with Thiem winning 7-5, 6 (10)-7, 7-6 (5). It doesn’t get much closer than that! And to sweeten the win…that was Thiem’s 300th tour match win!
The evening match was a rematch from last year’s round robin between Rafa Nadal and Daniil Medvedev. I was there for that one. Daniil was up 5-1 in the third set, so I decided to cut out early, beat the crowd rush and enjoy a nice dinner. Boy did I make a mistake! Rafa rallied back and won that match, and I missed it…for what? Pasta and a glass of wine! Lesson learned, Frazier…it’s not over ’til it’s over!
Anyway, back to the match. Believe it or not, Nadal has never won the year end final. He’s qualified (by the end of the year, he’s been ranked within the top eight) 16 times and has played this tournament ten times. (The other six, he was out with injuries) So, Rafa was definitely hungry for a win. And I, myself, was wondering if Medvedev had it in him to beat Rafa. Well, all was answered soon enough. Rafa won the first set very quickly 6-3, so I thought this is going to be over in a flash. And then a remarkable thing happened…Medvedev just kept coming at him! He took the second set to a tiebreak and won 6-7(4). We’ve all seen Rafa resurrect from the ashes and come back for a victory before, but not this time. Matter of fact, his playbook was all wrong. It’s like he couldn’t figure out the magic formula to beat Medvedev, and Medvedev wins the third set, 6-3.
Jim Courier and Brett Haber were at it again, calling this match, and Jim was really on a roll with the metaphors and word play. The amount of food and 80’s references he made, well, he’s a man after my own heart!
Things Jim said:
Banana forehand: (referring, I “think” to Rafa’s overhead forehand)
Snicker’s: what Jim ate before the match
Rubik’s Cube: (Medvedev…the puzzle Rafa was trying to solve)
Nip/Tuck: how close the match was
Gumby: Daniil Medvedev
Slinky: Rafa Nadal
M&M’s: how Jim can’t just eat one, and then some fruit
Pringles (OK, maybe that was Brett)
He also said that Rafa had fallen too much in love with his slice today, which was totally not the right strategy against Daniil. Fair…and true!
So there you have it! Today’s doubles final will be Koolhof/Mektic vs. Melzer/Roger-Vesselin. I’m calling Koolhof/Mektic on this…winning at their debut ATP Finals would be sweet!
Today’s singles final will be Dominic Thiem vs. Daniil Medvedev. This could really be anyone’s game, but I’m calling Thiem as the victor! Thiem is red hot right now, but Medvedev will be flying high, full of confidence after his win against Nadal yesterday. I guess we will have to watch and see.
The stage has been set for the final men’s tournament of the year, the ATP Finals, November 15-22. Here is my purrsonal purr-eview of the players.
In honor of it’s 50th anniversary I present “Group Tokyo 1970″ and Group London 2020”.
GROUP TOKYO 1970
Novak Djokovic: Not my favorite player, to be honest. He’s had a few hiccups during the pandemic (hosted a super-spreader in Serbia, hit a line judge in the throat at the US Open, to name a few). But he’s chasing tennis history like I chase a mouse around the house, so he’s the real deal at this event.
Alexander Zverev: I’m not going to give much space to this guy. He is denying serious allegations of assault by an ex-girlfriend. I want to like this guy, but he’s making it real difficult. Right now, I’d rather hack up a thousand hair balls than see this guy win.
Daniil Medvedev: I’m coming around to this cat. I know that’s a purrty controversial opinion, but I like his style and I think he’s trying to improve his image.
Diego Schwartzman: At 5’7″, he is an unlikely contender. But here he is and he’s had a stellar year! I’m happy for this Argentinian…now if we can only get him to stop with the “backwards hat” nonsense.
GROUP LONDON 2020:
Rafael Nadal: ME? You want to play tennis with me, Rafa? OK, let me grab my racquet and I’ll be right over! That’s how I feel about my main cat, Rafa Nadal! Meow!
Dominic Thiem: ME? You winking at me, Domi? Back at ya! And that’s how I feel about my other main cat, Dominic Theim.
Stefanos Tsitsipas: Reigning champ, this one. Bless his heart, this one! For the most part, this guy managed to stay out of trouble during the pandemic and focused on tennis. Now, if he would stop being a jerk to his dad (his coach), he’d be in good shape. Take my advise, Stefanos…let your dad be your dad and get yourself a different coach. How you behave with your dad (coach or not) is not a good look for you.
Andrey Rublev: Let’s be honest, I’m just not a fan of his headband. There, I hissed it! Headband aside, he has had a remarkable year and I see great things in his future!
There is a finalist from each group. In a Frazier’s Fantasy World, it would be Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem slugging it out next Sunday at the finals, with Thiem hoisting the winner’s trophy. Unfortunately, my Real World prediction is quite boring, and I’m afraid, might come true. I see Novak and Rafa playing in the finals with the win going to Novak. Cat Nap City! Wake me up when it’s over.
Yesterday wrapped up the fortnight in Paris, the French Open. And with all things this year, it was full of storylines of tales past, as well as plenty of new news!
The women’s champion, Iga Swiatek! The teenager who became the first player from Poland to win the French Open. “Welcome to the Jungle” was the anthem that kept her calm all week. Well, if Phillipe Chatrier (center court) is the jungle, then she is the Queen! She played a flawless match against Sofia Kenin, winning 6-4, 6-1.
Guess what kitty furriends?The King of Clay, himself! Rafael Nadal won his unprecedented 13th title on Sunday, winning the final against world number 1, Novak Djokovic. This was their 56th meeting, making that the record of most matches between two players. And the score line was equally as impressive as Swiatek’s. 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
It was lights out so fast for both of those finals! Speaking of lights…
Paris, the City of Lights, finally have lights at the French Open. I know, it’s hard to believe, but prior to this year, when the night sky descended on Paris, they would have to shut down and start play up the next day. Of course, the lights created unusual shadows, but it also allowed more matches to complete, which is always the goal.
Something New: A roof on center court! The roof was a lifesaver, because, as every smart cat knows, you just can’t play tennis in the rain. The roof enabled play to continue, and that is always a purrfect time!
Something Old: The drop shot! The drop shot was the real winner at this French Open. Due to new tennis balls, the ball was bouncing about three inches less than normal (or so meows one of the commentators) so players used the drop shot a LOT! Qualifier, Hugo Gaston, almost beat Dominic Thiem in the fourth round, playing the drop shot as often as I dose off into kitty dream heaven.
With this win, Rafa Nadal ties Roger Federer for the number of grand slam titles: 20! Roger is out this year, recovering from surgery, and he is 39 years old. There is no telling if he will be able to come back and win more majors. Rafa is 34 years old and plays like he’s 24. So I see him surpassing Roger’s record some time next year.
And that’s a wrap for the French Open. A little something for everyone. Hope you enjoyed the summary.
After a lukewarm start to the clay court season (he hasn’t won a single tournament this season), Rafa finally did what Rafa does best on clay….the Rafa Beat Down! And it happened in a nick of time…one week before the Grand Poobah of the clay court season, the French Open.
At the Italian Open in Rome, he met a familiar opponent, Novak Djokovic. They have met a record 54 times over the years. And just because the Djoker may be ranked number one, he was no match for the King of Clay. Rafa was in purrfect form Sunday, serving up a dry, crusty bagel in the first set! Vintage Novak showed himself in the second set by winning it 6-4. But then Rafa was like, “Not today, mi amigo!” and took Novak down 6-1, to win his ninth Italian Open title. Final score was 6-0, 4-6, 6-1.
They both get a little rest this week before the French Open starts over Memorial. Will they be the final contenders, or will be see some upsets? Maybe it’s Dominic Thiem’s time to clinch that trophy! Or maybe the flashy Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas gives them a run for their money! Only time will tell. Stay tuned, my furry furriends!
Back in 2017, I confessed that a large part of why I like the clay court season is to watch the hot guys! True Cat Confession #4 A lot has changed since 2017…new players have surfaced, older players have retired. But some things never change!
Here is a new and improved, updated list of the top guys to keep your cat eyes on! Meow!
#1: Rafa Nadal! Some things will never change. And in the last couple of years, he has only solidified his place as the numero uno, top-notch, the OG, King of Clay!
Image: USA Today
#2: Dominic Thiem! This Austrian is the next best thing to slide on the red dirt! His dominance over Nadal at the Barcelona Open this past weekend, showed him in complete control. We may be ushering in a new regime, come time for the French Open. Hail the Prince of Clay!
#3: Nikoloz Basilashvili! There is just something about this Georgian’s eyes that I could get lost in them for hours! Am I right, kitty cats? Am I right?
Cue the Debbie Gibson…I get lost, in your eyes…I get weak, in a glance!
Image: ATP Tour
#4: Stefanos Tsitsipas! I’m not gonna lie. This young Greek is a little bit of a oddball character and I wish he would cut his hair and shave his face. But there is something about him that makes me want to watch him. What do you think?
Image: NDTV Sports
#5: Grigor Dimitrov! OK, let’s just put this out there. Grigor Dimitrov is ridiculously handsome. There, I meowed it! He once dated fellow tennis star, Maria Sharapova, but I have long since forgiven him for that. He’s walked runways, posed for magazines, won the 2017 ATP tour! There is nothing this cat can’t do.
#6: Pablo Carreno Busta ! Why yes, I would enjoy a glass of wine with you while we admire your dangerous, pointy star trophy, Pablo! So nice of you to ask!
Image: Tennis Tour Talk
#7: Mackenzie McDonald! This young American is on the rise. He may not be there yet, currently ranked #57 in the world, but he has promise. And besides, just look at him. He’s adorable!
#8: Karen Khachanov! Is it just me, or does he resemble Liam Hemsworth? Dreamy!
#9: Jeremy Chardy! I mean, seriously! Look at this guy and tell me he’s not the most handsome guy you’ve ever seen!
#10: Sascha Zverev! OK, If I’m being purrfectly honest, Sascha is not the King of the Clay Court Forest. Matter of fact, he is having a hard time this year, all around. However, just because he can’t seem to win his way out of a clay court bag, doesn’t mean he’s not cute as could be.
Honorable Mention: David Ferrer! I have been a fan of this guy since he turned pro in 2000. He’s short compared to most players (5′ 9″), but he’s fast and runs to get every ball. He is so consistent….and he’s one of the nicest guys on the tour. He retired last week after losing to Rafa Nadal at the Barcelona Open, and for that, there is a big hole to fill in the “nice, handsome, decent, integrity” department.
It’s hard to narrow it down to just ten, but tell me…how did I do? Have I missed anyone? Let me know!
Furriends, have I ever talked to you about how important it is to get your beauty rest? Well, it is super important. Getting the proper amount of rest is imperative in all aspects of your overall health, from improving your mood and concentration to helping with weight loss.
Well, let me tell you…this week I have NOT been getting my beauty rest! Did you know that cats sleep 16 to 20 hours a day? I need at least that much to maintain my good looks! But epic night matches at the US Open has kept me from getting adequate rest this week!
It started with last Saturday night when I just had to stay up for the Marin Cilic/ Alex De Minaur match. Late Night at the Open
Then came Monday night with the Roger Federer/John Millman match that had everycat talking! If you recall, that match was played in hot, humid conditions in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Both players were soaked to the bone and Roger wasn’t looking his best. But it was Millman that out hit, out played, and just dominated that match. I couldn’t possibly go to bed and miss that drama.
Here is John Millman after winning his match against Roger.
Image: MSN Sport
The following day, we were gifted with an epic quarterfinal match between Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem. This turned into a 4 hour and 49 minute smashfest that is an instant classic. It is matches like this that makes me wish both players could win, but of course we know that this is not the nature of sports! You have winners and you have losers. The winner was me because I got to witness a beautiful display of athleticism and sportsmanship from both players. And the loser was me because I didn’t get to bed until 2am!!
Image: BBC Sports
Thankfully, last night was not as bad. John Millman, the guy who knocked out Federer Monday night played Novak Djokovic. I think Millman didn’t have enough gas left in his talk to play the type of match he wanted to, and Djokovic won the match in three sets. I was in bed by 11pm.
So, here I am on day four this week and I just watched Serena Williams win her semi-final match against Anastacia Sevastova in no time flat. I am currently watching the second women’s semi-final match between Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka. Osaka is up a set, but you know how it is. Momentum could swing and this could easily turn into a three set match. I’m purrty sure Osaka has this in the bag (she has Serena’s former coach now), so hopefully there will be lights out here soon. This kitty needs his rest…
Meow! Just meow! I don’t even know where to start with today’s matches! Oh wait, yes I do. How about “I told you so.”
I have long said I have Tennis ESP. You know, the ability to know what’s going to happen on court before it happens. A friend once told me that, no I don’t have Tennis ESP. I have just watched enough tennis to know statistically how things are going to go.
Well, I can guarantee you that no one predicted Roger Federer would be anywhere except hoisting the winner’s trophy on Sunday, except me. In my Wimbledon preview, I predicted he would be out in the quarterfinals….and I was not wrong! Of course, I didn’t know it was going to go down in such dramatic fashion, but it did.
Image: Yahoo Sports
Roger played Kevin Anderson, and I know what you’re thinking. “Frazier, who the heck is Kevin Anderson?” Well, I’ve been a fan of this guy for a while, and last year he made it to the US Open final, where Rafa Nadal ended up winning. He played college tennis before turning pro about ten years ago, and is currently ranked #7 on the ATP tour. If you see him, you might notice that his hat always sits a little crooked on his head. I think he places with the movement of the sun for maximum protection.
There are so many things to love about Kevin Anderson. Kevin, be looking for a fan letter from me real soon!!
Well furriends, the match started out just as everyone predicted with Federer taking the first two sets pretty handily. And then in the third set, at 5-4 Federer, it was as if Kevin said to himself “Not today, Federer. Not today.” He came back to win the third set 7-5. Then he won the fourth set 6-4.
And now…the final set.
In the majors, men play the best three out of five sets, and in all majors except the US Open, the winner must win by 2 games. In the fifth set, neither player got broken. If Roger won his service game, then Kevin won his service game. This went back and forth and forth and back furrever!! The final score of the final set was 13-11! That’s practically an entire other set played. It was a fierce battle, but Kevin was hitting his returns so early with incredible amount of pace. And the angles he was making! Unbelievable tennis.
And then we had Rafa Nadal play Juan Martin Del Potro. I predicted this was going to be a fiery match, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve said it before, I love watching Del Potro play because he puts it all out there. The crowds love it. His opponent respects it. And Rafa plays every match with such intensity you can’t help but get fired up!! Vamos!
Nadal/Del Potro was another five setter and it was fireworks to the very end when Rafa hit the winning shot and Del Potro fell face down in exhaustion, across the net. In a display of pure sportsmanship, Rafa steps over the net to help his friend up and congratulate him on a good match. How could you not love these guys?
Image: Yahoo Sports
All in all, it was a great day to be a tennis fan! But now I’m exhausted and must sign off.
Well, here we are in week two of Wimbledon, folks. A few of the Next Gen stars took a peek through the cracked window of success, but the big name players kicked the door of the Championships wide open.
I was excited to see two Next Gen stars (ATP players, age 21 or younger and ranked in the top 200) make it to week two of the Championships at Wimbledon. Fourth round at Wimbledon is not a bad gig. Unfortunately for Mackenzie McDonald and Stefanos Tsitsipas, they had some unforgiving opponents across the net. However, both put up a pretty good showing.
American, Mackenzie McDonald, had the misfortune to meet up with Milos Raonic. If these two names sound familiar, it because I have written about them both recently…Mackenzie just last week as a player to watch, and Milos as a player experiencing a Tennis Renaissance. Here, I think experience won out against youth. Milos has been a finalist at Wimbledon in 2016, so he knows what it takes to grind through a match. Milos beat Mackenzie in 4 sets. Not too bad.
Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas, was paired up against huge hitter and the King of Tiebreaks, John Isner. Stefanos put up a good fight , but in the end, John won 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 (of course finishing it off in two tiebreaks).
Image: Daily Express
Of course, the big names made it to week two and busted the door wide open! Tomorrow, the stage is set for the following quarterfinals:
Roger Federer vs. Kevin Anderson
Milos Raonic vs. John Isner
Novak Djokovic vs. Kei Nishikori
Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Rafa Nadal
The latest debate is which matches gets Center Court and which matches gets Court 1. Purrsonally, I hate that this is even discussion, but people are people, and people like to debate. It really doesn’t matter at all to me…I watch them from my comfy couch, usually with a plush blanket covering me anyway!
I’ve been predicting that Federer will be upset in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Tomorrow will tell us if I’m right. The Raonic/Isner match should be fun because they are both big beasts!! On the opposite end of things, Djokovic/Nichikori will be a battle of the fit and slender. Then we have the great Juan Martin Del Potro against Rafa Nadal. This could go with either way, really. Expect a lot of Argentine and Spanish heat! All in all, a great day of tennis tomorrow.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change…a solid quote from one of my favorite self-help gurus, Brene Brown. What does this have to do with tennis, you may ask. I think we can draw some parallels of vulnerability between today’s Rome Masters Final between Rafa Nadal and Sascha Zverev and the results of the match.
If you’ve been following my blog or tennis at all, you know that Rafa Nadal is dominant on the clay courts. Last year, he blew through the clay court season like the Tasmanian Devil of the Red Dirt! But this year has been subtly different. If you’re not paying close attention, you would never notice. But…last week, he lost in the quarterfinals in Madrid against Dominic Thiem and today, I saw a slight chink in this armor against Sascha Zverev.
The first set was decidedly all Rafa in a quick set winning 6-1, leaving Sascha and his game vulnerable to errors. This vulnerability lit a fire under Sascha and he changed his game, was creative and powerful with his shots and won the second set 6-1, his first set on clay that he’s ever won against Rafa. It is rare to see Rafa’s vulnerability on the tennis court, especially on a service that he practically owns. Luckily for Rafa, there was a rain delay in the third set with Zverev up 3-1 giving Nadal a chance to regroup and reset, and he took the final set 6-3.
Image: Getty Images
Is this the type of vulnerability Brene Brown was talking about when she wrote her best selling books on vulnerability or her TED Talk on the Power of Vulnerability? Probably not. But I challenge you to think about this for a little while. When a player is down, losing, get out played on the court, showing their most vulnerable selves, how do they harness their feelings and their energy? Champions use this to kick things into the next level, find a new gear, raise their efforts, be more creative with their shots (because, obviously what they are currently doing is not working), change things up during practice, do whatever it takes to win.
The French Open starts next week and I don’t think Rafa Nadal is a foregone conclusion here to win. He has shown vulnerability this season on the red clay and I sense his time is marked. I also think some of the new guys have used their creativity, innovation and change and could go all the way in Paris. I’m going to keep an eye on Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev this year, and I think we’ll have a new winner! Bold prediction, I know. Of course, I’ll keep you in the loop and let you know how it all goes down in Paris! Stay tuned….
Depeche Mode! One of my favorite bands of all time! So, it was no wonder when I was in the kitchen, staring at my food bowl waiting on my human to fill it up, chilling to the classic “Everything Counts In Large Amounts” I had a kitty epiphany! I said aloud to my human “Especially when it comes to ATP ranking points! Am I right? Meow! ”
That is why this past year, all we’ve heard about are the 3 R’s! No, not reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, but instead Roger, Rafa and the Rest. Once you understand how the points work, you’ll see why. I’ll break it down for you in simple, broad stroke terms. Ready?
The grabbing hands
Grab all they can
All for themselves
It’s a competitive world.
Everything counts in large amounts.
Who has these grabbing hands, anyway? Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, that’s who! And when we talk about large amounts, we mean the big G’s! 1000’s!
The ATP has tournaments year round for which players earn points. The Masters tournaments range from 250, 500, and 1000. That number refers to the number of ranking points the winner gets. There is also four grand slam tournaments, worth 2000 points each. You win a Masters 250 tournament, you earn 250 points. You win Wimbledon, you earn 2000! See how that can make a difference?
Let’s look at the current rankings:
1. Rafa Nadal – 8770 points
2. Roger Federer – 8670 points
3. Sascha Zverev – 5195 points
4. Marin Cilic – 4985 points
5. Grigor Dimitrov – 4950 points
Notice how close Rafa and Roger are? A mere 100 points. Notice the gigantic drop of 3475 points between #2 and #3? That’s because Rafa and Roger won all of the grand slam tournaments last year, two a piece (remember, that is 2000 points per tournament). Of course, the small amounts in the other tournaments of the year help move things up and down slightly. And you have to factor in defending points from previous year’s tournaments. But it is the large amounts that make the biggest difference.
Image: Business Insider
If any of these other players even think about being a contender against Roger and Rafa and knocking them off their thrones, these other players’ grabbing hands will have to start grabbing all they can and start winning the grand slams. It is simple math!
Of course, it is a little more complex than this and if you want to read all about the ATP rankings, you can find information here. ATP Rankings
Hopefully you learned a little something today. It’s pretty fascinating when you start following things closely. I am going to make a bold prediction and say that someone else besides Roger or Rafa will win a grand slam this year and really shake things up in the ATP rankings. But we will have to wait and see. And of course, I will be here to bring you the big news!
Today was the Monte Carlo Masters and guess who won? Rafa Nadal! I’m not surprised, are you? Of course not. But what IS surprising is who is opponent was. Kei Nishikori! Who, you may purr! Kei Nichikori, that’s who!
You haven’t heard me meow much about Kei Nishikori because he has been out with injuries lately. Let me catch you up! He’s a Japanese player who has reached as high as #4 in the ATP rankings. He’s been a US Open finalist in 2014, a US Open semifinalist in 2016 and an Olympic Bronze medalist. He’s no schmuck! But most recently, he’s spent about five months out with a wrist injury. To have him back on tour in top shape is a big win for him and a HUGE win for tennis!
You may be asking yourself, what record has Rafa broke now? Good question. If you recall last year he was making the rounds winning the Decima (10). Yep, last year he won his 10th title at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and French Open. There is only one way to go…11. That’s right, he’s won his 11th title, breaking his own record of the most titles at a single event.
Next week is Barcelona. Wanna bet he’s taking his 11th title there? We’ll have to watch and see.
Let’s start by saying I would never ask this question if I didn’t hear someone call Rafa Nadal a freak. The exact quote was “Nadal is a freak in every possible way that can be interpreted.”
I immediately lifted my head that was resting on my outstretched paw, my other paw tucked underneath my chin. I cocked my head to the side, looked at my human and meowed “Did he just say that?” She assured me that, yep, that’s what he said.
Image: Yahoo Sports
It is the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo, the first Masters 1000 event for this clay court season, and the return of Rafa Nadal. I was looking forward to watching today’s match between Rafa and Dominic Thiem. I thought “If anyone could beat Rafa, it would be Dominic.” Domi was one of the few people that has beaten Rafa on clay recently!
Well, furriends, it was not in the cards today for poor little Domi. Rafa went out there with a quick pace and finished off Thiem in two quick sets, 6-0, 6-2. The whole event last a little over an hour.
It was about this time the Tennis Channel commentator said “Nadal is a freak in every possible way that can be interpreted.” Now, I know what he was trying to say, but come on. Rafa is just playing a game. He’s crafted his talent in such a way that he is a genius on clay. Yes, he’s a bit OCD with his water bottles facing the right way, the adjustments he makes before every single serve, and his overall work ethic. Does this make him a freak? I don’t think so. But, you can draw your own conclusions. All I know is he is magic when he steps out on the clay courts!
I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable tennis cat, but no cat could have predicted the 2017 tennis season we had this year. It was a wild ride, for sure, that served up some vintage tennis and some unlikely winners.
Here are the predictions I made at the beginning of the 2017 Grand Slam season on the men’s side:
Aussie Open – Stan Wawrinka
French Open – Rafa Nadal
Wimbledon – Roger Federer
US Open – Juan Martin Del Potro
At the beginning of 2017, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were dominating the men’s tennis scene, Roger Federer was phasing out, Rafa Nadal was injured (as he always been). So these predictions were a bit nostalgic, like wouldn’t it be nice if Roger could win one more Wimdledon, Nadal could dominate clay and win a French Open, and Juan Martin Del Potro could relive his 2009 glory days and win a US Open. But, as we saw early in the year, this will be a year like no other!
Novak did not perform well this year due to personal issues and possible injury, as did Andy. Roger and Nadal dominated the entire season, winning two grand slams a piece. Here are the final 2017 grand slam results:
Aussie Open – Roger Federer
French Open – Rafa Nadal
Wimbledon – Roger Federer
US Open – Rafa Nadal
As you can see, I was 50% correct. Not bad. Stay tuned for my 2018 predictions before the beginning of the year!
Once upon a time there lived two young men who loved to dance. Dancing was in their blood, what they were born to do. They were considered the best male dancers this world has ever seen, each with their own unique style. Roger was elegant, graceful and executed fine finesse with each movement, and was the best danceur in all the land. That is French for a male ballet dancer…ballerino in Italian, if you will. Rafael on the other hand was strong, powerful, dominant on the dance floor…the best Flamenco bailaor in all of Spain. And yes, that is the correct term for the male dancer in Flamenco, which originated in Spain.
As time passed, the two dancers traveled the world over, swinging head to head, stepping toe to toe, at every competition under the sun for the illustrious title GOAT (greatest of all time). Time ticked on year after year, and each dancer became more dominant in their craft. But as one gets older, movement slows, injury creeps in, younger dancers are joining the party, and just when you think these two fine dancers are ready to exit the ballroom, there is a renaissance! An explosion of talent, will and hunger that both dancers possess, simultaneously saying “The lights aren’t out! The party is not over. This is not my final dance.”
A rebirth of their talents is exactly what happened to Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal this year. At the conclusion of last year, the tennis world was embracing Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. Roger and Rafa were in the conversation, but simply as sentimental favorites. They already made their mark and were in the process of making graceful exits. But in January, the Australian Open proved to tell a different story. The finalists were Roger and Rafa, with Roger winning. The French Open was Rafa’s red clay playground, where Wimbledon was Roger’s grass park. Then of course to bring a lovely balance between this dance, Rafa wins the US Open.
This past weekend, Roger played a flawless game against Rafa to win the Shanghai Masters title and to be the Rolex King. However, Rafa is still ranked #1 with Roger trailing him by around 2000 points. Will Roger be able to catch him before the ATP finals this November? I don’t know. But I do know it has been a fun and interesting year for tennis watching these two reclaim their dominance on the tennis dance floor.