Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thoughts On Federer Beating Murray 6-2 7-5 6-2 In the U.S. Open Final

Well, that's that. I was afraid - what with the final starting at around 3:15 a.m. Pakistan time - that I would be forced to miss the conclusion of the match but Federer's clinical performance ensured I saw the whole thing. Hereunder are some impressions from last night:

(WARNING: Before you proceed, you should know some images in this post are probably not safe for work. Read it when you get home, or don't blame me if you get fired).

1. There were only two passages in the match that Andy Murray even looked like he was from the same planet as Federer. The first passage was the first four games of the match, when it was 2-2. After that, Federer reeled off six straight games, and really looked to be running away with it. The second passage was when Federer looked like he was going to end it in less than an hour, after he'd taken a 2-0 lead in the second set. From there, Murray fought back admirably, and matched Federer punch for punch until 5-5. From there, however, Federer took seven straight games from Murray, and before you had a chance to blink, it was over.

2. You could almost sense the relief in Federer's body language at playing someone not named Nadal in a Grand Slam final. He was very aggressive and he was dictating play, almost like he was telling Murray: "this is how it's done on this stage, kid. You have a lot to learn." The last few times Federer's played Nadal, he simply hasn't looked himself. Last night he did.

3. Murray needs to stop his whining. He was having a go at one of the baseline judges, as well as the chair umpire, the whole night. He also has a terrible habit of throwing up his hands, and muttering all sorts of things to anyone in his vicinity, any time he loses a point. When Safin does it, it's endearing. When Murray does it, it's incredibly pissing off. He has this woe-is-me-ness about him that is really unattractive. I say this also because as tennis fans, we have been spoilt by the graciousness, class and all round good-guy-ness of Federer and Nadal, and I simply assumed it would seep down to the rest of the players. Watching Djokovich and Murray, I am now considerably less certain of that theory.

4. I sort of mentioned this in point number 1, but I really would like to reiterate it here: from 2-2 in the first set to 2-0 in the second set, Federer looked like the 2005 Federer. Big booming forehands, expertly placed serves, smart returns, viciously low backhand slices, solid volleying, the whole deal. He also looked very good - though not as good - from 5-5 in the second set to 2-0 in the third set, when he simply sucked the life out of Murray (and the stadium, no doubt). After that, Murray basically gave in, losing a number of games to love (including on his own serve). I had almost forgotten what Ruthless Federer looked like - the Federer that senses an opportunity for a break or senses that his opponent is flagging just a little bit, and then goes in for the kill.

5. By the way, in case you don't know, Andy Murray looks like a werewolf:

Whoops, sorry, confused him with someone else there. This is what he actually looks like:

And this is what his girlfriend looks like:

You know what the woman in green is saying? "Oh, you're looking for Ahsan? He's right over there, that way."

Actually, when you think about it, the mismatch between Murray and his girlfriend is not that bad. I mean, if your face looks like the goddamn moon (i.e. it has craters all over the place)...

...and you still end up with a former swimsuit and underwear supermodel

or if you can look like a hired hit-man for the Russian mafia who ended up missing his assignment because he drank too much Vodka the night before and as a consequence is now himself going to get clipped for his incompetence...

...and you still end up with one of the hottest Victoria's Secret supermodels

then it's not as if the Murray-Kim Sears relationship is truly out there, is it? All I can say based on the above photographic evidence is (a) that it really, really, really pays to be famous if you're a man, and, as a corollary, (b) life is really, really, really unfair if you're a man and not famous. Whatever. Let's move on.

6. In terms of meta-narratives, it's nice to see Federer at the top of his game again, because it means that next year is going to be unbelievable if both him and Nadal can stay healthy. In 2007, Nadal wasn't quite ready to challenge Federer on non-clay courts. In 2008, Federer looked a step slow the whole year. Next year, if we can see them at their best, playing each other in final after Grand Slam final, it's going to be amazing. I can't wait.

7. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I count myself as privileged and incredibly fortunate to have seen Brian Lara, Michael Jordan, and Roger Federer at the top of their games. The poetic lyricism of their athletic prowess has simply been a joy to behold. These are the types of people I will tell my children about. These guys aren't simply great, but they're great and beautiful to watch too. I'm sorry if this seems a little too gushing, but it really is breathtaking the extent to which these guys can combine artistry with clinical brilliance. Plus, we've been lucky enough to see them in the age of super slo-mos and replays ad infinitum, giving us the opportuntity to truly soak it all in.

8. Federer's up to 13 grand slams. He needs one more to tie Sampras, two to break his record. Based on this performance, I would say by this time next year - health willing - he will have gotten there.


AKS said...

Federer really is from a different planet; how else do you explain "Mirka"?

Anonymous said...

you guys are so shallow.

Ahsan said...


Hahaha, yes. I'm sure Messrs Seal, Murray and Jaric have their great conversational skills, general knowledge, and charm to thank for the success of their love lives.

In all seriousness, Federer is really remarkable in this sense. Has there even been a smart, well spoken, good looking athlete in a mainstream sport who's been the best ever at what he does who has managed to keep a long term relationship with a, shall we say, horizontally challenged woman before?

zeyd said...

Gotta say that I'm surprised he won it. Not that he beat Murray in the final--that was a given--but going into the tourney he looked a shadow of his former self and I really thought Nadal (or even Novak) would take the title. I suppose I forgot how good Federer really is on the hard courts.

I guess I'm going to have to revise my prediction now. Post Wimbledon I thought Roger would probably win 2 more slams and finish with 14 total. Now it looks like he could easily win 3-4 more. Suppose it all depends on Rafa's fitness and ability to get better, as well as Roger's own ability to sustain his standards.

He's still not going to win the French though. It's just not gonna happen.