Sunday, June 07, 2009

Live-Blogging The French Open Final: Roger Federer vs. Robin Soderling (Updated Below)

All times are local (i.e. Chicago).

8:12 a.m. Alright you madarchod Federer. I woke up at 8 a.m. on a Sunday for this. Don't fucking disappoint me.

8:13 a.m. I am not a morning person. Soderling to serve.

8:14 a.m. Big hitting to start, and two errors from Soderling. 0-30 nice and quick.

8:17 a.m. Soderling double-faults at 30-40. Federer with the early break. Man that first game saw some big shots.

8:19 a.m. Federer: ace, unreturnable backhand, sweet drop shot. Up 2-0 in the second, and off to a good start here.

8:20 a.m. Fucking hell. Federer just hit a drop shot from about 10 feet behind the baseline. I think I'm awake now, though Soderling might not be from the looks of it. He gets broken here, and the first set is over.

8:22 a.m. Yeah, this first set is over. Federer mishits a return and it sort of loops in, with Soderling not even going for it. 3-0 Federer, and really, Soderling seems a touch overawed by the occasion. Also, Federer has just played really well so far. I mean, sometimes we overdo the faux-psychoanalysis in sport -- it's oftentimes simply a case of the other guy/team just doing really well.

8:25 a.m. I'm really happy I'm listening to John McEnroe and not Vijay Amritraj. Just throwing that out there.

8:27 a.m. The score is 4-0, 15-15. We've been playing 15 minutes and Soderling has no winners.

8:29 a.m. Soderling finally holds to get on the board. It's 4-1, but really, this set is over.

8:32 a.m. Blink, and you miss Federer's service games. He's lost one point on his serve in three games. This has been all-out domination.

8:35 a.m. Federer is pulling Soderling around court like a dead puppet. 15-40, and Soderling faces two set points on his own serve. Come on, man. At least make him serve for it.

8:36 a.m. Federer needed both, but there you go. Soderling comes into the net, Federer does his whole "move like a gazelle and hit like an ox" routine and it's over. 6-1, with Federer winning 3 games on Soderling's serve. So now Federer knows how Nadal feels at every previous French Open final.

8:38 a.m. Quick question: has Federer ever been up a set in a French final?

8:40 a.m. Some quick internetting reveals that yes, Federer has been up a set previously. He won the first in the 2006 final against Nadal.

8:43 a.m. As expected, Soderling looks more solid here in the second, getting over whatever nerves he may have had courtesy that first set mauling. 1-1 here, with both players holding relatively comfortably. But Federer is serving in front.

8:47 a.m. Tony Parker and Eva Longoria sighted!

8:48 a.m. Hahahahhahahahahahaha. A streaker (but he's actually clothed, funnily enough) runs on to the court with a Swiss flag and a beret, and tries to put the Beret on Federer, who looks miffed and tries to brush him off like a fly. The guy runs around, jumps over the net, and is then tackled by some dude. Hilarious. Federer should have "thought about using his racket" according to McEnroe.

8:50 a.m. They showed a replay, and Federer looked kind of scared for a split second. You would too if some nut came running at you with a flag and godknowswhatelse. I mean, really -- that guy could have had a knife, right? Federer actually clutched his heart there. Poor guy.

8:52 a.m. Anyway, after all that, Federer manages to hold. 3-2 in the second. The crowd is still buzzing about that incident.

8:55 a.m. McEnroe says that Soderling has at least starting playing better. Of course, he follows with a double fault.

8:55 a.m. And a missed smash. 15-30. Mini chance here for Federer.

8:57 a.m. It's raining a little bit, but it's clay so they can stay on for now. Soderling recovers though, and we're at 3-3.

9:00 a.m. Federer is drop-shotting like it's nobody's business. What a beautiful player to watch at full flow, even at this advanced stage in his career. He holds, and it's 4-3. Business end of the set coming up.

9:02 a.m. By the way, if Federer wins today, it would be the 18th time in the last 20 Grand Slams that either Federer or Nadal won.

9:04 a.m. Oooh Federer had a chance there. 15-30, and Federer had an open court with Soderling looking all at sea at net. Dumped it into the net though. Too bad.

9:07 a.m. Federer rips a backhand winner down the line. There's just something about a one-handed backhand. He follows it up with a bad miss to take the shine off though. No worries, as he wins the next point, and it's 5-4.

9:10 a.m. Soderling gets to a Federer drop shot for the first time. Think he's going to lose this game though. Let's see.

9:11 a.m. Great prediction, Ahsan. Really. Soderling wins the game at love. 5-5.

9:13 a.m. Federer follows with his own at-love hold. 6-5.

9:17 a.m. Some big forehands from Soderling. He's very much in this thing. He gets this to a tiebreak, and anything could happen. One set all? All bets are off.

9:19 a.m. Federer with a vintage on-the-run forehand pass down the line. Beautiful. Deuce for the first time in this match methinks.

9:21 a.m. Tiebreak it is.

9:22 a.m. Aces from each to start. 1-1.

9:23 a.m. Federer hits heavy but also smart, pushes Soderling to a corner where has nowhere to go. Gets the mini break, and follows with an ace. 3-1.

9:23 a.m. One more. Federer has three aces on three points on his serve in the tiebreak.

9:24 a.m. This is getting ridiculous. Federer wins two points on Soderling's serve, the second on another drop shot. 6-1 in the tiebreak.

9:25 a.m. Hahaha. Another ace. Soderling didn't touch a ball from Federer's serve in the tiebreak. 7-1, and Federer takes a two set lead, and follows with his mini jump and trot to his chair. This match is over, right? There's no way back for Soderling. Right?

9:28 a.m. McEnroe says Rod Laver was his idol, but Federer gets his vote for GOAT. We're then treated to a great rally, probably the longest of the match. Anyway, it's 30-15 on Soderling's serve.

9:31 a.m. McEnroe tells us that Soderling once beat Rainer Schutler after being two sets down. "Doesn't bear a great resemblance to Rainer Schutler, Federer" he deadpans. Anyway, Federer breaks Soderling. 1-0.

9:34 a.m. Another ace. Federer has served magnificently today. 2-0, and the commentators start discussing Wimbledon and Nadal's injury. Wow, guess this one is really over, huh?

9:38 a.m. Why do sports programmers always end up giving so much advertising space to erectile dysfunction medicines? They do know that some sports fans are younger than 45, right?

9:40 a.m. Bloody hell. Statistic of the match thus far: Soderling has won nine points on Federer's serve. In the match. That's ridiculous.

9:41 a.m. Ooops! Federer misses a gimme, and suddenly, Soderling has his first break point. Is he going to make this interesting?

9:42 a.m. Not there he isn't. Soderling plays defensively and pays for it. Got to take your chances, man. Deuce.

9:44 a.m. Federer holds, and it's 3-1. He is twelve points away from a truly astounding achievement.

9:45 a.m. This has been the heaviest shellacking in a French Open final since, um, last year, when Nadal just smoked Federer.

9:47 a.m. Another curious fact: do you know that no one has ever beaten both Federer and Nadal in the same Grand Slam? In non-slams, Nalbandian has done it twice and Djokovic once.

9:49 a.m. Federer closes his service game with two aces. Have I mentioned how well he's served today? Eight points away, and the crowd is chanting his name.

9:51 a.m. This has been a truly remarkable performance from Federer. It really has been -- he's looked very different to the guy who struggled and ground his way through the tournament.

9:53 a.m. Soderling holds, and it's 4-3. Let's start talking about Wimbledon. I say Nadal misses the tournament, Federer loses in the quarters, Murray wins, and England tries to pretend that Scotland kinda/sorta still belongs to them.

9:57 a.m. Some wiseass in his column tomorrow is going to say something to the effect of: it says something that the person to give Federer the most trouble on Sunday wasn't a tennis player.

9:59 a.m. Four more points, as Federer holds. 5-3.

10:00 a.m. I would like to thank Roger Federer for two things. First, for playing such awe-inspiring and clinical tennis today. Second, for finishing the match well before the scheduled start of play in the England Pakistan T-20. I hate having to make choices.

10:02 a.m. Soderling holds, and it's 5-4. As he sits on his chair sipping his water, what do you think Federer is thinking right now?

10:04 a.m. Alright, here we go.

10:04 a.m. Soderling error on the serve. 15-0.

10:05 a.m. Federer hits the net with a wide-open court. Jitters?

10:05 a.m. Good serve, return out. 30-15.

10:06 a.m. They trade angled backhands, and Federer misses the down-the-line clincher. 30-30.

10:06 a.m. Wow. Misses a running forehand on the full. Break point.

10:07 a.m. Mishit from Soderling. Deuce.

10:07 a.m. Great serve, great backhand, simple volley. Match point.

10:08 a.m. And he's done it. Of course, because he's Roger Federer, he starts crying. We'll let him bawl here. Outstanding achievement. Brilliant play today. What a champion.

10:10 a.m. By the way, someone should have told Soderling the final was at Roland Garros. Did he get lost on le metro? Paris' subway system is pretty easy to navigate, so that can't be it.

10:13 a.m. Alright, unless something really funny/interesting happens at the trophy presentation, I'm out. I'm going to load up the dodgy feed for the T-20 game. Who knows, you guys might get two live blogs in one day.

UPDATE: I thought this might be a good time to revisit the late David Foster Wallace's classic piece on Federer written in 2006, titled "Federer As Religious Experience". Even if you've read it before, read it again. And if you haven't read it before, set aside half an hour and read it now.


sabaimtiaz said...

"This match is over, right? There's no way back for Soderling. Right?"
- AMEN to that!

bubs said...

Only at two sets and a break up am I feeling comfortable enough to join the conversation, or should I call it a celebration.

bubs said...

Oh, and we're not listening to Amritraj. They've got the British feed.

Re: Federer's drop shot, he's really developed that in the past few months. It's a thing of beauty.

bubs said...

Thank god for a stress-free final

bubs said...

A word of advice for Federer: Here's how you deal with streakers

sidrah said...

finally, FINALLY.

Ahsan said...

Let's make this a Wimbledon thread, since there's clearly so little to discuss about today's events. Three questions for you guys:

1. Does Nadal play? (I say yes)
2. Does someone not named Nadal or Federer win? (I say yes)
3. What will be the biggest surprise of the tournament? (I say it will be tied between a shock second round loss for Nadal and a title for Sharapova).


bubs said...

1) If he doesn't play he will be very close to losing his number one ranking. He will definitely be there.

2) No

3) Safin owes us one last magical run. If he's not in Federer's half then he reaches the final.