(Australian Open 2009) Double fault, then: Cue panic for Fedtards everywhere.
written: 10:21 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009

Fernando Verdasco, the #14 seed in the tournament, is down 0-40 against Rafael Nadal in the deciding set. Nadal is up 5-4. Verdasco has to hold serve, or he loses the match. He's down 0-40 and he valiantly saves two match points by way of a smash at the net. Then at 30-40, he misses his first serve.

At 30-40, he misses his first serve, and goes on to tank his second serve into the net.

On the other side of the net, the #1 player in the world collapses to his knees in joy and happiness, having won an epic match on his opponent's double fault.

Brilliant, right? I know. Seriously. Just utterly brilliant. I don't know what's worse: The fact that Nadal has just made his first hard court Grand Slam final, or the fact that Verdasco was so close to winning this, but ultimately fell short on the saddest, most unjust way possible: a double fault. And it was only his fourth in a five-set match. The number of winners he hit vastly outnumbered that of Nadal's, as does the number of unforced errors - but that only shows that he played an attacking game, while Nadal played defensively. I didn't watch the match, but the stats say it all. You don't hit 95 winners and 76 (!) unforced errors if you're playing a defensive game.

And with that double fault, Nadal is through to the final. And guess who he's meeting? Roger Federer.

Like I said, cue panic for Fedtards everywhere.

I was lucky enough to avoid watching a Federer/Nadal Grand Slam final when Andy Murray kindly took out Nadal at the semi-final in last year's US Open. Since then, the only Federer/Nadal match I've watched is the 2007 Shanghai Masters Cup semi-final in which Roger dished out a 6-1 set to Nadal and played perfect tennis. That remains the only Fed/Nad match I've watched, and I was really hoping that it remained that way until I find time to watch the Wimbledon finals that Roger won against Nadal and the Hamburg 2007 final that Roger also won (on clay! His first and only victory over Nadal on clay).

But nope. I have to suffer through the nightmare on Sunday, all because Verdasco was unlucky enough to double fault on match point. Of course, he might have gone on to lose anyway even if he'd saved those three match points and hadn't double-faulted; but as it stands, he lost on a double fault. And I can completely understand how immensely upsetting and terrible that must feel for him; more importantly, it drives me absolutely crazy to know that I was this close to avoiding a Roger/Nadal match, but it was just not to be.

Oh, my, god. Panic panic panic.

I believe in Roger Federer, no doubt. He's gone on record saying that he wants to play Nadal in the final. He said that too last year at the US Open final. I believe that his best tennis, even his near-best tennis, is capable of beating every single person playing tennis professionally right now, including the World Number One.

But because I'm not Roger, and I'm in no way associated with him, and therefore have no real insight to his mental steadiness against his biggest rival, I can't help but worry. I can't help but panic. I want him to win his 14th Grand Slam so badly that I am quite capable of losing sleep over it. It would hurt so much if his beautiful tennis lost out to the brute power that characterises Nadal's style - the traditional, the elegant, the breath-taking giving way to the modern, to the garish, to the bullish.

That absolutely cannot happen. Roger has to win this. If anything, he has to overcome his mental block or whatever it is against Rafael Nadal. I'm really glad that he was in the audience tonight (according to my mom anyway who apparently saw him on TV). It means he's done his homework and he has tomorrow to come up with a winning strategy against his biggest, most consistent rival.

A win for Roger over Nadal on a Grand Slam stage is definitely going to propel him back to the spot where he belongs - the World Number One. He's the best there is; there's just absolutely no one else. There's no way I'd get all hot and bothered and emotionally crazy over someone who isn't the best because I like, and demand, only the best.

Roger Federer for the win. Nadal will just have to wait until Roger retires to win a hard court Grand Slam.

before sunrise // before sunset

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