Saturday, 30 June 2012

Wimbledon 2012: Where seeds fall and dreams grow

Is that the campest headline ever written? It was either that or "Rihanna and Katy Perry in sex tape scandal. Controversy confirms that the world will end in 2012" in an attempt to boost my page views. No matter.

We are only six days in at this year's Wimbledon, but it's shaping up to be a cracker. I was even at Wimbledon on Wednesday (I think) to give you insider knowledge of the tournament itself. I even tried to get in the press area in the grounds, but for some reason I was denied.

"Hi, my name's Douglas Elder, I'm here for the press thingy stuff?"

"How come you don't have a pass"
"I don't need a pass, don't you know who I am?"
"The writer of the popular blog 'Irrelevant irreverence'"
"Oh you! My brother says stop posting on BBC Sport's website...and your photo is scary"

I tried.

Anyway, if any of you were ever unfortunate enough to read the book 'Stormbreaker', you will understand my next analogy. In the book, the protagonist uncovers a plot by a Chinese triad to sabotage the championships. Their plan involves subtly drugging the opponents of some nobody they are betting on. The first few days of these championships have seen remarkable similarities.

On Thursday night, Rafael Nadal was beaten by relative unknown Lukas Rosol. Of course, Rosol played the  match of his life, but there seemed to be a strange lethargy about Nadal. Perhaps he was made to look poor by the sheer ferocity of Rosol's groundstrokes, but Nadal just seemed half a step too slow. The challenge for Rosol now comes with his next matches, when he will be expected to destroy opponents, much in the same way I destroy all and sundry when they dare face me on a tennis court.

Apparently women find Nadal sexier than me,
so here is him with no top on to balance out the fact
that I posted a picture of a pretty German lady recently
I started making links to Chinese triads and became racked with suspicion, but then I shook myself out of such xenophobia and sent an anonymous report - detailing the probability of the Chinese derailing Wimbledon - to the Daily Mail instead. Expect some breaking news in the next hour or so.

As for Rosol, after losing the first set on a tiebreak, it appeared that the man had talent, but he would ultimately be swept aside by Nadal, a man who celebrates and punches his fist when his alarm wakes him up on time. However, the Czech player suddenly went all psycho axe murderer on the Spaniard and butchered him for most of the remainder of the match. Rosol, with eyes wide open in Hannibal Lector fashion, hit winner after winner as Nadal began to look more out of place than Andy Murray doing a stand-up gig.

Speaking of Murray, this does mean that he will have someone else to lose to in this year's semi-final which has naturally made British pulses race faster. The poor bugger has only played two matches and now a place in the final is "his to lose". Huh?! The Scot (if he doesn't win) once again has the weight of expectation on him. However, the British (if he wins) player at least only has to carry the burden of "last Brit (if he wins) standing" for nine days, instead of the usual twelve. Heather Watson reached the giddy heights of Round Three* while James Ward nearly got out of Round Two*. But didn't. 

* - capitalised to emphasise magnitude of achievement.

Watson and Laura Robson look like future top thirty players (not the most ambition prediction, but hey ho) and they might serve to take further attention from our beleaguered Scottish hope (when he loses).

As for the other half of the draw, the triads seemed to be at work again when both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer lost the opening set of their third round ties to decent, but aging and limited players. Djokovic soon stopped playing and crushed Radek Stepanek like a paper cup, but Federer was taken the distance by Julien Benneateau under the centre court roof.

Djokovic looks a long way from his best but one would expect him to improve, after all, how many times has he been written off in the last eighteen months before coming back to win...and give us more opportunity to look at his brother clenching his fist. Oh joy. Expect Novak to play poorly all the way to the final where he may meet Murray, before the Serbian raises his games and deflates our national self-esteem, denying us the chance of another national holiday.

As for Roger, I would be amazed if he won this year's title. This now means he will almost certainly win the tournament, but I think he is starting to look slower and slower against aggressive opponents. For two hour yesterday, he was outplayed in longer rallies and it was only experience that saw him through. Better players will get in his way soon, and I don't think the Swiss player is going to make it. But he does have great hair.

I'm not sexist, but I haven't had much chance to see the women play yet.

The BBC don't seem to want to show them, and Wimbledon like to throw them (not literally, imagine that) onto the outside courts. I'm not going to get into an argument about equal pay, as that would be silly, and Serena Williams would probably track me down and eat me.

Maria Sharapova is still in the draw. Goody. Yesterday she screamed when putting away what was essentially a drop volley. Is she an excitable character or just very annoying? You decide.

As we approach halfway, the tournament is shaping up very nicely indeed, and as it has just passed half eleven, I can now look forward to another long, boring day in my bed as I watch tennis for the day. All for your entertainment. People praise the ground staff at Wimbledon as the unsung heroes, but they have it easy. I'm the one who has to watch Ernests Gulbis vs Jerzy Janowicz in fading light on an outside court.

No need to thank me.

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