MIAMI OPEN 2008-ATP MASTERS SERIES
The third round of the ATP Master’s Series saw world no. 1, Roger Federer take on the unseeded, Robin Soderling. Donning a white jersey which I’ve seen him in for the first time on hard court, Federer looked as majestic, as adorable and as handsome as ever. Now, this is different from his Wimbledon’s white avatar. Here we saw a black collar to the jersey and it was teamed with black shorts.
‘Play’ said the umpire and Fedex took the first serve. BANG! Came an ace. Now we Fedexies know how he plays. Gradually dominating a game is his way. But Soderling seemed in a hurry (to lose-?) and he started to move around fast as we saw the beginning of the 2nd game in the first set. No problems thought Federer and he gave us a treat to watch some great tennis from his racket. He conquered the third game with a squeezy cross-court back hand drop shot. Federer’s confidence did seem down though. He had a problem in some of the easy shots to play. Nevertheless, it was clearly evident that Fedex wanted to win this match. Winning is his way of course, but one could see that this match meant much more to him than just reaching the 4th round. I guess, with Djokovic sent away he sees a wonderful chance of capturing his first title this year. Coming back to the match, Federer broke Soderling (his first break in the match) and punched the air in triumph. (Oh! did he wanna win!)
The stadium was full, but the audience did not seem happy. What could the reason be, if you are wondering then here’s what it is. It’s the sloppy and error filled tennis they were seeing. If I start writing the number of unforced errors dear old Fedex made, half the matter would be filled with ‘oopses’! But this does not mean the whole match was as such dear readers. It’s a very tricky weather there at Miami and this match had different breezy conditions which made it all the more difficult for players to control their serve and shots.
As the sixth game commenced, Fedex changed his game and we could see him flirting with the ball. In one rally he was powerfully hitting the ball and in the other, he merely made his racket peck the ball softly. The shots were coming on well and sure enough, the score turned in his favor. At this point, I can’t stop myself from mentioning the humor Federer creates on court. He has this thing with the umpires and he alone can carry it (not unlike his cream coat he wears at Wimbledon when all other have to wear white only)
His sense of creating humor is awesome and it has always to do with the ‘challenges’ players are given when they feel a ‘call’ is wrong. Just a brief description of the joke which happened, then I’ll come back to the match in a shot, I assure you… The fifth game saw the only point in the match where Federer’s serve was broken. Here came a moment when the umpire called ‘out’ as Federer hit a shot after a fairly long rally. Fedex raised his racket to have a challenge for the call, then looking at the umpire and innocently asks, ‘He should challenge or I should challenge?’ The umpire was all laughs and of course so was I.
Coming back to the match, Federer changed his serve from the seventh game and played like his old self. That’s good news for all of us I guess. Chances of him winning the tournament seemed bright at this point. At 4-5, Soderland served to stay in the set and Fedex played to win the all important first set. A win is a win, no doubt but the manner in which on wins is also a thing that matters. There were very few winners from Federer’s racket and he won the first set thanks to a score of unforced errors by Soderling. Nevertheless, we fan’s are always happy at his small and big wins and likewise clapped and cheered our hero for the second set.
A man is seen kneeling near Soderling’s chair during the rest time. Soderling is pointing at his chest and telling him something with a painful expression. What is this you ask me? This scene is where Soderling’s doctor is kneeling and Soderland seems to be having a chest pain or something of the likes. However, he came to play in the second set as Federer lead by a set in the match, 6-3.
The beginning of the second set saw a 360 degree turn in Federer’s approach. He was evidently dominating now, and after a nasty and an unfortunate deuce he won the first game of the second set. Slices were coming neatly from his racket; he was bouncing well on the court while playing his shots. Winners came thick and fast and they were well deserved. Does this mean the quality of the match improved? I’m afraid the answer is no dear readers. Errors were increasing from the other side but I guess we need to give it to Soderling for attempting to play with a painful chest, where one cannot even breathe with ease. This brings us towards the obvious end of the match. Yes, you’ve guessed it right-The retirement of Soderling. The final score was 6-3, 3-0 retd.
All in all a sorry tale to say from either side. The highlight of the match was definitely not quality tennis from both players. But indeed it was fascinating to watch Federer play like an ordinary player and not showing a king attitude (does he ever?). His attitude was handsome to watch- the manner in which he consoled Soderland upon his retirement, his acknowledgment of the applause the spectators gave; all was wonderful to watch. And as he left the court waving to the cheering crowed, he definitely looked like the king of the tennis world. What remains to be seen is when we’ll get to see the old Fedex level of tennis and also that our hero gets his first win this year. Here’s wishing my hero, your hero and the tennis hero of all times, all the very best for his coming matches.