Daily Archives: September 15, 2009

The King of the Open is toppled. And I am stunned.

delpotro

One last tennis post after a truly wild final weekend at the Open …

Saw some things in a four-hour tennis match I hadn’t seen before Monday.

Saw a guy not named Rafael Nadal push Roger Federer around a tennis court. Saw a guy not named Rafael Nadal blast winners past Federer for three-plus hours and refuse to yield.

Saw a guy named Roger Federer, against an opponent not named Rafael Nadal, looked befuddled and flummoxed on a tennis court. Saw a guy named Roger Federer, against an opponent not named Rafael blow a two sets to one lead, and fall completely apart like a weekend hacker in the fifth set.

As I”m watching this match Monday evening, watching the future superstar Juan Martin Del Potro stage a shocking rally to beat Federer in five sets, I kept thinking, “Are we SURE that’s not Nadal on the other side of the net?

Because, dear readers, for the last five years, only Nadal has been Fed’s kryptonite in big matches like this. So when Del Potro, a 6-foot-6 Argentine (who looks taller) was pounding forehands past Fed in the fourth and fifth sets, I couldn’t believe this was really happening.

Oh, those of us who follow tennis closely knew Del Potro was a comer, a 20-year-old with huge shots and a great mental makeup. But Federer just doesn’t lose Slam finals to guys not named Nadal.

It was wildly disconcerting to see Federer miss so many forehands, and serve so poorly (50 percent of first serves for the match).

Even when Del Potro pushed the match to a fifth set, and the crowd at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was going nuts for the underdog, I expected Roger to come through. Again, he doesn’t lose matches like this.

But the fifth set Monday was scarily reminiscent of the one Federer played against Rafa in the Australian Open back in January. He was broken early, and he never quite was able to come back. It was shockingly one-sided at the end, just like it was in January.

Look, this is probably good for the sport right now. The list of guys who have the mental and physical ability to stand up to Federer is woefully short, and now maybe Del Potro can be the rival that threatens Federer at Slams that Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic can’t quite be yet (or may never be).

But as a Federer fan, Monday was disappointing.

So the U.S. Open ends with the two champions everyone figured we would have. Of course we all saw Kim Clijsters and Del Potro winning it when we prognosticated two weeks ago, right?

God .I love the unpredictability of sports.

Couple other Tuesday morning thoughts:

1. Not sure if I should be happy that Patriots looked so bad in their 25-24 win over Buffalo Monday night, or if I should be mad because Belichick is going to give them hell in practice all week and they’ll come into Sunday’s game at my Jets all fired up and beat my boys 62-3.

2. Kanye West, you made me feel sorry for a pop country starlet today. And that’s hard to do. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Mr. West, quite the musical performer I’m told, got up on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards the other night and interrupted pop tart Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech, taking the microphone from her hand to say Beyonce’s video was better. Truly awful behavior.  I know, you’re like me: You’re shocked to see a hip-hop guy or a rapper misbehave.

3. I see Serena Williams apologized again. Hey, third time’s the charm. Maybe by her 7th or 8th apology she’ll actually call the lineswoman and say she’s sorry.

4. And finally in honor of the late, great Patrick Swayze…

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