April 7th, 2009

happy girl

Understanding, and trying to understand.


[Video of Roger's racquet smash]

NO ONE BREAKS A RACQUET THE WAY ROGER DOES! Name me ONE tennis player who's able to break a racquet so completely and cleanly after going I don't even know how many years of never breaking a racquet on court. All the famous racquet breakers - Safin, Gonzo - do it so regularly that all the shock and awe have been taken out of it. Their regular practice of the tricks of the perfect Racquet Smash also make their racquet-smashing exponentially less impressive compared to Roger's, when you consider the fact that the above video is probably - and I'm pretty sure of it - the first time he's ever broken a racquet in a match on the ATP tour. I don't know how many he broke in his junior days, but certainly as a pro this is the third time he's ever thrown a racquet and the first time it's ever broken.

See? He even rules at the art of racquet-breaking. He truly is the best.

This is more a note to self than anything else but it's also directed to all the haters who try to use this one, isolated incident to tarnish Roger's character and usually-flawless on-court conduct: The guy had a bad day - really bad day - at the office. He could've won that point easily, and in fact the minute he approached the net to hit that shot it was, and should've been, his point; but he missed. Like the commentator said, it was a long time coming, and for someone as perfectionist as him, it was simply impossible to accept so many errors coming from his best shot.

So he broke a racquet out of anger - big bloody whoop. It was sucky behaviour, but he's not perfect. It's not normal to go as many years as he did without ever breaking a racquet, and it's a true testament to the strength of his character and will - and also his winning ways - that he's managed it until now. The problem with idolatry is that sometimes, even the best of us forget that our idols are merely human at the end of the day. Roger's a human being that experiences the same negative emotions and overwhelming rage that everyone does. The fact that he's kept it together for so long is impressive and highly unusual, especially considering the fact that he used to be extremely hot-headed on the courts as a junior. And I think the reason people keep harping on about the damn racquet is because it's totally uncharacteristic of him and so it provides fuel for haters to go on about how he's "revealed his true colours" (if "true colours" = he's human, then yeah, I totally agree he's revealed his true colours), and the moronic fans that he unfortunately has moronically hold him to an impossible standard to which racquet-breaking behaviour does not adhere.

Sadly, I belonged to that latter category. The problem with idolatry is that I forget, sometimes, that Roger is human at the end of everything. Take away his achievements and his talent, and nothing else remains but his humanness. You - I - tend to forget that when you're - I'm - too focused on how you - I - think he should behave on court 100% of the time, as if there could never be any room for error. If his tennis is capable of sinking into a slump, why can't his manners and conduct do the same? After all, his tennis is natural, but the way he controls his emotions? Not so much. Like Nadal's left-handed forehand, it was manufactured, forced - he had to make a concerted effort to control his emotions because his hot-headedness was getting the better of him and keeping him from winning.

I feel really sad for Roger, knowing that he puts an incredible amount of pressure on himself, to the extent that he's - seemingly at least - stopped playing with the freedom and joy that he used to play with, that won him 57 career titles. His post-match press conference was the most bitingly sarcastic presser of his I've ever read, starting from August/September last year. (Maybe the post-Wimbledon 2008 one was worse, but I'm not about to dig that up.) Then of course I had to go watch the video of that bitingly sarcastic press conference, and he sounded tired and jaded and just plain tired. I mean, him saying "thank god the hard court season is over" is just...really really REALLY sad, considering he's been called the best hard court player ever. And bring on the clay?! Yeah, because no one - truly no one - would expect him to win anything on clay with Nadal playing all the clay court tournaments Roger's entering.

At times like these, I just love Roger even more. Maybe it's the sucker for the comeback story (that I will not give up hope on!) in me that's rearing its head, but I feel so bad for my poor, wounded soldier, the king who has fallen off his throne, that everyone is taking potshots at and berating even further. At times like these, I can kind of see where that weirdo who made the "Leave Britney alone!" videos was coming from; I feel like telling the whole world, "Leave Roger alone!"

I really thought everything would right itself once the 2009 season starts, but how realistic was I expecting him to play at his peak just because the calendar went from 31 December 2008 to 1 January 2009? Didn't I say that there is nothing magical about the New Year, that it's really just yet another mundane passage of time, the same as the other 364 days in the year?

I wasn't even terribly upset or affected by the Djokovic match because I've become used to him losing. Not because I don't believe in him anymore, but because I have managed to adjust my unrealistic expectations of him. I started following him at the US Open last year, which he won, and that win, plus everything I've read about him including his victories and his 237 weeks at #1, made me view him in a certain way - and when that image was first shattered by his loss to (bloody) Andy Murray at Madrid last year, it was like someone drove a tractor over my body and left me for dead. It was unbearable, as if the world had suddenly became strange and alien just because Roger lost a match, nevermind that he's lost over a hundred matches in his entire career (and won over six hundred, of course). Even a loss as recent as the Indian Wells one made me all upset, but this one...not so much. Perhaps it was because I could see that there was no way he could win it because of all the errors he was making, and that squat in-between points reminiscent of Shanghai 2008 made me think he wasn't physically at 100%; but whatever it was, I've come to accept that he can't win all the time, that I missed the train bound for the period in which he won everything in sight. Maybe I'm late to hop on the Federer Express, but you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd love for him to get back on his winning ways, preferably the same domination he exerted from 2004-2007, but to "get back" to somewhere, he'd first have to have fallen from it - and this, I think, is precisely why I'm so into him. Not so much because I'm taking pleasure in his struggles - far from it. I'd much rather everything went his way, and I want him to get everything he wants.

But there's something inherently intriguing and gripping about the story of a former champion, on the brink of making new history, who is hit by a sudden phase in his life in which he's unsure, losing confidence, and struggling to get back to the apex from which he fell. I am rooting with all my heart that he gets back there, that he achieves everything he wants to get out of his tennis career, because this former champion also happens to be an amazing person who is incredibly generous with his fans, who conducts himself with class and grace, whose beautiful tennis, when played in slow-motion, is genuinely capable of moving me to tears.

Like I've said repeatedly, Roger's the best. There's really no one else. The sport will suffer a bit when he finally retires; but until then, I will keep rooting for him, hoping he wins everything, and cheering him on even when he's stopped cheering himself on.

Oh, and re. the bottles in that video, I really don't give a shit about this "petulant behaviour" becuase I've seen him do it before and I also know that he cleans up after himself on the practice courts where there are no ball kids, so whatever.

Moving on now.


So the ICL exam was a complete disaster which sucked. But the Human Rights assignment swooped in to mitigate the start of my week. I dragged myself to school yesterday to collect my assignment after I'd talked myself into accepting a C, so imagine my shock and very pleasant, even ecstatic, surprise when I flipped to the last page and saw an A-.


Well, I'm kind of over it, and as per usual I felt the same "oh shit whyyyyy" when I think of how I no longer have a viable excuse not to attempt to do well for the actual exam (question came out the morning I submitted my ICL answer, by the way - joy and happiness). Also, really unfortunately, the motivation from a good grade doesn't last very long, and once again I'm back to my usual procrastinating, lazy ways.

Sometimes, though, and in all honesty, I wish I knew what it was I did that was good enough for an A-. Sometimes I don't even feel like I deserve it because of the lacking effort and the bewildered writing process. I remember not knowing what the hell I was doing when I wrote my assignment, and not wanting to read it ever again after I submitted it because I thought it was crap. I still think it's pretty crap, but who am I to really argue with the grade, right?

But it's just not overwhelmingly satisfying when it's for something that you didn't really put considerable or genuine effort into, or felt much for. I actually think I put in way more effort and heart into that Comparative Constitutional Law paper (with the same amount of time I gave myself to do both assignments which was like, two days before the deadline?), which has me all worried because it must mean that I'm going to do very badly for it - and if I do badly for it, I'd be really sad.

Okay, I have no idea what my point is so I'm going to stop talking now.


Lastly, I'm pleased to announce that I am indeed sick. I felt really awful on Thursday in Human Rights class, after waking up for the 9 AM class and coming home at 12 to watch my recorded Roger/Andy match during which I actually fell asleep because I was so tired. On Friday I couldn't finish half my dinner because I felt sick and had no appetite. On Saturday I couldn't finish half my dinner because I felt sick and had no appetite, and I felt really tired, more than usual. On Sunday I couldn't finish half my dinner because I felt sick and had no appetite, and I felt really tired, way more than usual. Yesterday I went to town after I collected my assignment and wanted to leave after five minutes because my legs suddenly felt heavy, like walking took out more energy from me than usual. I chalked that down to fatigue after bearing in mind the fact that I slept at 5.30 in the morning (after submitting my answer - I wasn't about to wake up in the morning just to wrestle with the fucking shit that IVLE is).

But the last straw came today, after waking up at 12.30 and sleeping at 2 a.m., and STILL walking around with heavy legs, no energy, and fatigue. I must admit that I even suspected I contracted mononucleosis, mostly because I read someone's summary of an interview Roger gave to the Swiss press in which he allegedly said his legs started to feel heavy in the second and third sets of the Djokovic match - and we all know Roger battled mono last year.

Thankfully, I was being stupid and paranoid (which I apparently got from my dad but let's not go into this). The doc said I was showing early signs of the flu. How anti-climatic and untimely, considering there's some stupid 10% Nation Building test tomorrow and I haven't studied and I've read like none of the articles from the mid-semester break onwards and the test covers stuff taught from the mid-semester break onwards. I still feel too tired to do anything to be honest. It's this incredible fatigue that makes you not want to do anything and just sit in one corner and stone. I had to drag myself to lecture this afternoon; was walking really slowly (and I usually walk damn fast and when I'm in a hurry, my walking speed is practically as fast as my running speed. Which just goes to show I don't run very fast) as if it took everything out of me just to lift my legs. ARGH. I'm going to get another freaking 61/100 for my test, whatever the hell that even is.

(I got a 61 for the first Nation Building test and till now I haven't slightest clue what grade that is. Clearly it's not an A, but still, I'd like to know if it's a C+ or a B-. My tutor spazzed - rather hilariously and in a good way actually - and gave us marks instead of grades. Bleah.)

I can't even understand how the hell I managed to finish my ICL exam. I felt so awful the whole weekend, especially on Saturday, it was insane. Couldn't focus (even more than ever - and that's saying A LOT!), brain wasn't working, didn't feel like answering questions on genocide when I felt like my body was committing genocide against me. I'm sorry for belittling such a serious issue...yeah, I really am sorry! Shit, I think I'm really going to stop typing now. Clearly my physical discomfort is interfering with my brain.


Also, fans that think his career is over seriously need to fucking chill, 'cause last I checked, 2009 has been an improvement from 2008, and he's only losing to the top 4 players in the world. Not like he's losing to a random qualifier or whatever.