I'm sitting at my apartment, watching the Australian Open and drinking beer. I just finished up doing my laundry from the trip, which was absolutely necessary because my clothes (and therefore my bag) smelled like an elephant spitting on a sweaty chimpnazee, mixed with alcohol and curry and just a dash of the beach (i.e. sunscreen, mosquito spray, sand and salt). So I'm sitting here typing with my beer, and I just happen to be watching the 2nd semifinal, which looks like a hyperactive Spanish guy with a mean face and a hyperactive forehand playing his own mirror image. Nadal v. Verdasco. They're both Spaniards, both fit as hell, smart, left-handed, and just the right amount of crazy, and it's amazing. I'm a little sad that it's like 4:50am in the states right now, and my mom is missing it. This is the best match I've seen in a long time; both guys are swinging for the fences, going for it like it's their last day on Earth. Scottie -- I know you don't really like watching tennis, but this is awesome.
These guys are flinging their bodies all over the court, wrenching forehands crosscourt, running as though they're being chased by a werewolf on crack, hitting crazy topspin lobs, throwing the occasional drop shot to keep the other guy honest. It's just beautiful tennis, and as much as I like Federer, I think he's gonna have a helluva time with whichever guy wins this match. They both want it so much, it's incredible.
At deuce, up 5-4 in the 2nd after losing the 1st, Nadal just hit this crazy curving forehand that must have bent at least 6 feet back into the court, at a dead sprint, and it landed well inside the sideline to set up break point. He ends up taking the 2nd set. Now it's 1 set apiece and both these guys are playing amazing... I feel for Federer, because whoever wins this match is going to be on an amazing high when they play next, while he pretty much just took care of business against Roddick. As much as I really don't like Nadal... just call it the problem of seeing a young punk who's freakishly athletic taking over a sport that I'm actually pretty good at because I'm smart and consistent and I try hard (much like Federer, and Agassi before him, and Courier and McEnroe and Connors before him)... none of those guys were amazing athletes. I mean, sure, they all became athletes because they wanted to win, but they started out with a dream and conviction and smarts and determination, and that was enough. That's what I want to see; that's whom I want to see succeed; not some freak who's ripped to shreds and has some superhuman hand-eye coordination and ability to pit spins on the ball noone's ever seen before. Call me old-fashioned, but I like watching smart, less-athletic players beat Nadal. I also like watching up-and-coming Spaniards who modeled their game after his beat him at his own game. :) Because it proves that hard work still counts for something in this world, and that freakish athletic talent will only take you so far. I know that I'm oversimplifying here, and that Nadal works really hard at what he does, but this is just my gut feeling here... so bear with me. I also know Verdasco just hit a forehand winner at 157 km/hr... which is damn near a 100 mph. Which is damn near crazy.
Allow me to opine on the challenge system for a moment. Verdasco just a lost a point in which he had the clear advantage because he stopped playing to challenge a call that he felt was wrong. Now, if he'd just kept playing, he *probably* would've won the point. But he stopped play to challenge a call, which turned out to be right. Nadal's shot, called in, did indeed catch the back of the line. Because Verdasco stopped play instead of putting away the point, he lost that point and subsequently, the game. Now Nadal's up a break in the 3rd, which is not a good place to play from for Verdasco. And then... the reason I love this kid. He comes up with amazing shots one after another to break back immediately at love, and put himself right back into the 3rd set. Let's do this thing! It's gonna be a long night here in the East. ;)