anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

This is a meaningful entry.

(Too lazy to edit previous entry)

I have nothing to say except two things:

Tennis and life

I do not enjoy watching Mikhail Youzhny play the game. Not because he's bad, but because he takes so damn fucking long between serves that he ends up dragging out the match longer tha necessary, and in so doing, ends up losing my interest. Every time I watch him I would find my attention start to drift, and I realised today that it's because he takes too long between points.

I read the ATP Rule Book at work a few days ago 'cause I was bored and the rule is, in black and white, a server can only take up to 25 seconds between serves. The umpire is supposed to time him, and if he takes longer, he's supposed to issue the player with a Time Violation warning.

Nice rule on paper, but it's hardly ever enforced, if not never. I've never seen it enforced at all. AT. ALL. And I'm telling you, Nadal is right up there as one of the many players who abuse this rule. The commentators would start a timer themselves and they would display it on the TV screen, and there was once Nadal actually took a whole minute between points. What happened to him? Nothing.

Same goes for Youzhny. Even Djoke's stupid ball-bouncing is a time-delaying tactic, but he's smart enough to incorporate the violation into his service routine, so technically he's within the rule. (But in fact, it's not hard to deduce that someone's deliberately dragging out the service when he bounces the ball like 13 times before he serves.) All these unsportsman-like time-delaying is actually hurting the game: it makes the match longer than it should be, which justifies the haters' complaints that tennis takes too long to complete. Imagine if Nadal and Youhzny faced off each other - a straight-forward match with one break of serve in each set would probably take two damn hours to finish.

Youzhny is actually quite good. I just really can't stand watching him. If it weren't for the fact that he's currently playing David Nalbandian (who's like, finally back!1!!!!11111!!1!), I wouldn't bother watching. At all.

I have to feel sorry for Nalby - he came back from hip surgery and found his ranking in the low 60's. Prior to this he's never finished outside of the top 10 since he broke into the top 10. He's Roger's generation so yeah, that means he was consistently at the top for a very long time, much like Roger and Andy Roddick. And he's REALLY good. I'm really hoping he wins this match, just to take his comeback a step further. I'd love to see him go back to his real capabilities.

Eh what the fuck, he just broke Youzhny to win the second set. Why is it that every time I sit down to watch he doesn't convert break points (just now first set had this one game when he had like six fucking break points and converted none. I was so mad) and when I'm not watching he goes on to win? Dammit. He and I are clearly not in sync.

On another but tennis-related note, on Saturday I played with NUS Wall Guy in the afternoon. I was lethargic again, and was dying throughout, but miraculously found a spurt of energy for the last 8 minutes. The first rally of the last 8 minutes was an absolute killer. Now, whenever I see players slug out a 23-shot rally, my immediate reaction is, "If that were me, I'd die after the 8th shot." Sometimes I want to end a rally not because I want to win, but because I just want the damn thing to end because I AM SO TIRED. It's so not easy to stay in a long rally. First you have to be physically up to it, which the pros can do with ease I'm sure.

More importantly, and also more difficult, you have to stay mentally checked in for the whole thing. Tennis is such a mental game actually, and this aspect of the game is vastly underrated. The average person doesn't appreciate the mental tenacity and temerity needed, not just to play at a high level, but to play competitively at all, even at a club level. The mental pressure when you step up to serve. The mental pressure when you're serving at break point. The mental pressure when you have a break point opportunity. The mental pressure of holding your own serve. I find it more relaxing to return than to serve (maybe that would change once I sort out my serve. Which is going to take at least half a year).

But I find it really difficult to stay in a rally and not die. It's so easy to lose focus when you're tired, and this game is so punishing in that the second you lose focus, you risk losing control of the rally, and in turn you risk losing the point. Usually you end up losing the point. Usually two players with equal talent are separated by their respective mental strengths. This is why Roger had to conquer his mental weakness before he could win at a high level, and do so consistently. This is why people like Marat Safin, Richard Gasquet, cannot win. This is also why Andy Murray just lost in his first round match 2-6, 1-6. If you're a pro in the top 50, you have attained a certain standard of tennis that's more or less comparable across the board (excluding Fed. Not just saying this as a fangirl but his talent is incomparable). What keeps you out of the top 20, top 10, isn't really what you can do or cannot do with a tennis racquet; it's what you believe you can do or cannot do. By his sheer talent alone Gasquet should be in the top 20, but he's languishing in 75 because he doesn't have the belief that he can win, that he can come through in tough situations, that he will emerge victorious on the big points (tennis is really all about the big points. You can win more points than the other guy but if you fuck up the big points, you end up losing the match).

To reiterate what Andre Agassi said, tennis is a lonely sport. You're all by yourself out there. And so to me, it's the more admirable what these guys can do on a daily basis. It's the more admirable what Roger achieved from 2004 to 2007. That's four years of dominance. Four years of not checking out mentally, of staying focus, of believing yourself.

And this is the thing about self-belief: it dictates your confidence. Tennis is so much like life in this sense. The most palpable sense I got from Fed watching him throughout the American hard court season was that he was tentative on the big points. He couldn't play like GodFed, he couldn't pull the trigger when he needed to, and he danced around the ball like he was afraid of it. This was in sharp contrast to the Federer that won his 16th Grand Slam, pulling the trigger with absolute confidence, flying around the court with 100% self-belief. His lack of self-belief in Indian Wells and Miami - especially Miami - was probably influenced by his lack of matchplay due to his lung infection. But he wasn't confident. He didn't believe that he could pull off the winners that barely skirt the line on the big points. And so he lost to Baghdatis and Berdych.

My point is, I'm feeling like that a lot these days. Like Roger, post-lung infection this year; like Roger, post-mono in 2008; like Roger, smashing his racquet in frustration in the 2009 Miami semi-final. The thing about me is that I've always been an ugly duckling. I've always lacked confidence and self-belief, due to some mysterious and rather ridiculous inferiority complex that I thought I'd shed over my last two years in law school, but I've only realised now that it was never really gone. It was merely hidden.

I'm not pulling the trigger on the big points anymore 'cause I'm no longer sure that my ball wouldn't find itself sailing long or wide. Everything is so tentative now, so unsure, so utterly lacking in confidence. And you know what? I think I'd rather take the chance and smack my backhand into the net than to keep dancing around the ball, pushing it around the court, hoping either that I hit a winner by chance, or the person on the other side slips up and gifts me the point with an error.

These long rallies tire me out anyway.


American Idol

Nothing much to report except this season sucks and Lee was the best of the night, followed by Tim.

I'm bored of Crystal. She sounds the same on every song.

I hate Andrew, Siobhan and Mike. And Katie.

Aaron is a harmless boring kid.

Casey is boring and uneventful.


Shower time!

Tags: american idol, david nalbandian, novak djokovic, personal, playing tennis, rafael nadal, roger federer, tennis, tennis rules

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