Monday, February 16, 2009

Rafael Nadal is a Great Human Being (but Murray's a Champion)

Rafael NadalAndy Murray beat an injured Rafael Nadal to win Rotterdam. Vera Zvonareva waltzed over Sania Mirza in Pattaya and Amelie Mauresmo triumphed over Elena Dementieva in Paris. Nadal did his knee early in the second set but played on admirably showing the kind of toughness and unwillingness to let the crowd down that’s been missing in some other champions recently. He also didn’t want to deprive Murray of the glory of winning by retiring and making his victory hollow. Can we just make him the player of the year now please?

Unable to push off the knee to serve properly and lacking mobility, Nadal changed his game and went for winners and the aggressive game took Murray by surprise and the second set in a break-a-thon. Murray came back in the third and it was only Nadal’s great heart that stopped him from conceding. Credit to Murray for hanging in there and winning but Rafael Nadal even looks like a winner when he loses like this.

Even with Serena cleared out of her way Dementieva still couldn’t win the Paris title. It’s either a grand comeback for Mauresmo, who’s been otherwise steadily edging towards retirement for some time now, or Dementieva has all her demons still lodging in the darkest recesses of her tennis game. One hopes it’s Mauresmo, who is a fine counterpoint to the ball-bashing game beloved by so many other exponents of the art of tennis. Do we credit Elena (the Almost Great) for her run to the final or slam her for yet another disappointment? Let’s do both.

Little surprise in the Pattaya result after Wozniacki fell early, Zvonareva did what she had to and didn’t lose a set. Hope the appearance money was worth it.

Caroline Wozniacki appears to want Pennetta’s title as the Queen of the small tournaments and will play Memphis instead of the big tournament in Dubai. She’s the top seed and drew a qualifier for her first match but must have felt sick to see Jelena Dokic’s name come up. Out of all the players (qualifiers even) to draw in a Mickey Mouse tournament the former number four on the comeback who just beat you in Melbourne is not the one you want to see. Next time go to Dubai Caro – if the WTA doesn’t cancel the tournament next year...

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