Hey folks. How are you? I thought I’d give you a quick update on what transpired yesterday in New Delhi in the IPTL league. I thought this new league thing is basically just a glorified exhibition and wasn’t planning on giving it much attention. I didn’t even watch Roger’s first match against Berdych which he won 6-4. He also won his mixed doubles and doubles in that team encounter with Mirza and Bopanna respectively. When I heard Roger was gonna play against Djokovic I got more interested however. He was also going to be involved in doubles again while Sampras would play Ivanisevic which I was interested in too. Sampras got schooled in the first match by Rafter and when he was down 4-1 to Ivanisevic he withdrew and got replaced by Santoro. That is where the fun began. Santoro is a very entertaining player to watch with his unorthodox game and the match up with Ivanisevic was especially entertaining.
It’s a damn shame he had to start with a 1-4 deficit, and had the Aces have him in the starting line up he could have beaten Ivanisevic. He was already starting to drive Ivanisevic up the walls with his slices and went 2-2 with Ivanisevic losing the set 3-6. Santoro had already beaten Rafter 6-5 in the previous team match and he may be the best of all the retired players. The match up with Ivanisevic is perfect because he has the ability to get under the skin of opponents and Ivanisevic is a bit mentally unstable, so that makes for an explosive combination. The Aces had to start Sampras because he is a legend, but Santoro would have been the better choice and had he started the Aces could well have won the tie. Not that it matters. It’s meaningless and inconsequential who wins as a team. It’s the individual players and match ups that are interesting. I mean it’s great for India to have players like Roger, Sampras, and Djokovic playing in their country.
I don’t know who she is but I so would
There are also interesting match ups between current and retired players which is entertaining to watch. It is not really serious because they are not playing for anything else than personal pride. Tennis players are very competitive and even though there isn’t much to gain they are always going to try and win. For Roger and Djokovic there was an extra incentive to win due to that final in London that didn’t happen. But not before a very entertaining doubles match which involved Roger and Monfils against Zimonjic and Cilic, who later got substituted by Djokovic. Roger and Monfils edged it on the last point of the shootout when Roger made a blistering backhand return at the feet of Zimonjic. That set us up nicely for the Djokerer grand finale. And what a finale it turned out to be. With nothing serious on the line these two played the best set of tennis I may have ever seen.
They both looked to be totally in the zone and in the flow. It didn’t look like they were playing tennis. It looked like tennis was playing them. At the start Roger broke serve after taking the power play where the returner wins two points if he wins the point and the server only one if he wins the point. Roger did it at 30-40 which meant he won the game because there is no ad point. Then in the next game Djokovic did the exact same thing to Roger and broke back. Then at 3-3 Roger went down 0-40 on his serve but saved all four break points including the game point in amazing fashion. They were really neck and neck until the shootout game at 5-5 where Roger edged it again 6-5. He was up 6-3 and at 6-5 he was allowed to take a time out and run down the clock. It’s kinda weird rules which I don’t fully understand but it was something fresh and interesting.
The format was tailor made for Clownfils and his circus act
You could see Roger and Djokovic was not as serious as they would have been in a tour match but you could also sense that they definitely did not want to lose. It was kind of a hybrid of being serious and playful, which may have been the reason for the spectacular little show they put on. All in all I was pleasantly surprised by what transpired because I didn’t really give the thing a chance. It turned out to be great entertainment and it is actually ideal for the off season where you still wana see some action but nothing too serious. And of course it was satisfying to see Roger edge Djokovic in both the doubles and singles. It made me wonder what kind of show they would have put on had they met in the London final. It has to be said that the courts in India appeared to be good for attacking tennis as opposed to the slow courts in London but it would have been an epic anyway.
Finally it is just good to see that Roger’s back problem only seemed to be a one off thing after playing so much tennis and then that grueling match with Stan. So the problem doesn’t appear to be ‘back’ although I’m sure he will not take any unnecessary risks. There was a point where many of us thought playing in India was an unnecessary risk but look how well that turned out. Even though this was only half serious Roger did very well and it will only boost his confidence and help him stay match fit. I think Roger will take some much deserved holiday in India now and then he will probably start training seriously for Australia where the first stop will be in Brisbane which begins on the 5th of January. So that unofficially concludes the 2014 season for Roger which was a terrific one and this was a nice afterthought after the Davis Cup triumph. Even though it was just 6-5 the win over Djokovic was sweet!
Highlights and matches. Enjoy!