Monday, July 7, 2008

Sports Weekend

JJ and I spent our weekend at home since long walks are difficult for me these days. I have to stop and sit down every once in a while when we go out. We spent Saturday and Sunday mornings in bed, I was reading a book I bought just last week and he was either online or playing with his PSP. Afternoons were spent napping and evenings were spent watching our fave sports. Mejo nakakainip pala pag walang lakad (highlight na ata when we tagged along with FIL when he went to Makro for groceries) but after a while I realized that days like the past weekend will be difficult to have once Lucas pops out since we'll be busy with him na.

The Wimbledon Finals and the British Grand Prix were both scheduled last weekend. I am a Nadal and Raikkonen fan. The result of the Wimbledon Finals is more than pleasing but the grand prix results were a little disappointing. I couldn't write what happened in my own words (baka puro shortcuts lang ang masabi ko) so I just plucked articles from websites to describe what happened :-)


So now we know. For 65 matches spanning six years we have wondered who could possibly be the man to stop Roger Federer on grass, and at Wimbledon. Did such a player exist, or was Federer's elegant supremacy such that the mere idea was the stuff of ridiculous imagination?

On Centre Court on Sunday, imagination took flight. The sporting world trembled on its axis, and mother nature sent out thunderclaps and lightning around the All England Club to herald the extraordinary moment. So remember the date, July 6 2008, the time, 9.15pm, and then shout the name out loud: Rafael Nadal.

Little wonder the Spanish national motto is Plus Ultra – literally, further beyond. If the translation is clumsily ungrammatical, then the legend itself spells out in neon what Nadal achieved. Four weeks to the day since he permitted the Swiss a confidence-mincing total of four games in his clay court kingdom of Roland Garros, Nadal robbed Federer of his most treasured possession, the title that defined him: his Wimbledon crown.

The 22-year-old Majorcan already has four successive French Open victories, but this is his most glittering prize. Three weeks ago at Queen’s he became the first Spaniard to take a grass court title in 36 years. But it is 42 years since a player from his nation conquered the lawns of SW19.

The moment when at last he touched victory hit him like a bullet in the chest. It left him flattened on the turf, eyes squeezed shut, face crumpled. Tears came, and he rolled over into a near-foetal position, before staggering to his feet to acknowledge Federer at the net. But the need to be with those he loves the most was paramount for Nadal, and he clambered the stands to find their embrace, before taking a startling walk over an adjoining roof to receive a handshake from the Spanish crown prince in the royal box.

Little wonder he felt such need for release. All through the match he had contained his confidence, with none of the lavish celebration so habitual to his game. Dozens of times in any given match he can be seen extravagantly rejoicing in some extraordinary shot by swerving away with his left fist clenched, arm pumping, shouting: “Vamos!” But today there was no investment of energy in such wastefulness until late in the final set. Face set in concentration, he permitted himself just an occasional fist-clench of affirmation, until almost the moment he smote the legend.

Who could blame him? Every second of this match was cloaked in spine-tingling tension, and that was just for those who watched. What must it have been like inside Nadal’s skin, to wake on Sunday morning in the knowledge that this was the most important day of his professional life?

Twelve months ago here, he became the only person to have taken Federer to five sets since his grass court streak began in the ancient days of 2003. This year so many voices publicly proclaimed him champion before a ball was struck. But he was facing a man who was bidding to make history, by becoming the first player in 122 years to win the men's singles title at Wimbledon six times in succession. Federer was decreed to be at his most vulnerable, yet no one else here had been able unburden Federer of so much as a set in the whole fortnight. The only outcome no one could envisage was an anti-climax.

On a cool and blustery afternoon, the Centre Court crowd were all but gibbering with anticipation. Arriving on court Nadal looked tense and purposeful; Federer strolled in behind him with a graceful wave to acknowledge the ovation. When umpire Pascal Maria called time, Federer strode at once to the baseline, but Nadal lingered for 10 seconds in his chair, pondering his destiny.

He grasped the first point of the match with a powerful forehand, and it prompted not only long applause but a great murmuring ripple through the crowd, as if some sensational piece of news was being passed among them. Even the sun peered out from the dark skies above, unable to resist the lure of the action.

Moments later the ripple was a roar of astonishment. The match was three games old, but already the Spaniard had a break, and Federer never got it back. It felt as if the mental burden of that Roland Garros evisceration was casting a shadow.

The shadow grew longer when Nadal came back from 1-4 down to take the second 6-4. Federer, the grass court king, was two sets down. If that seemed unreal, it was positively eerie when at 3-3 in the third, Nadal galloped to 0-40.

They felt very much like match points – but all went by. On such chances great matches might hinge. An 80-minute break for rain saw Federer renewed, as if he had remembered that all he had to fear was fear itself. From being dangerously near defeat, he took the set on the tie-break.

The fourth set tie-break was a thing of heart-stopping beauty – heart-stopping in its tension, beautiful in its quality. Twice Nadal held Championship point, and twice heaven passed him by on the other side. Federer took it to a fifth, and here at last Nadal’s destiny lay waiting.

There is no sound like the roar of the Centre Court crowd as it tumbles on to the turf. The great wave of it crashed over Nadal. Was there ever such a final as this? The king is dead; long live the king.

Article from Written by Kate Battersby.


Kimi Raikkonen has had a fortunate couple of races and collected 13 points, when he could easily have ended up with nothing. In France he nursed an ailing car to the finish and wasn't asked to pit to remove a flailing piece of machinery. In Britain, he lost his car going backwards out of control towards the pitlane barriers but stopped short.

It was a rare sight to see the Ferrari consistently lapping five or sex seconds slower than the Mclaren, and on one lap he was a whole eight seconds slower than Robert Kubica. This wasn't a case of getting caught out in unforeseen rain, this was a miscalculation of grip and tyre wear by Ferrari.

Lest it be forgot when Raikkonen lost it backwards through Woodcote he had the right tyres on.

Up until the first pit-stops he looked in ominous form but his fall from grace was spectacular.


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