It is very rare for me to be slightly disengaged when Roger Federer is playing a tough five-setter, and not totally euphoric when he finally wins it. I felt disengaged and not euphoric this morning, watching him grind out win against Kei Nishikori; this was in sharp contrast to the euphoria that I felt last summer when he came back from two sets down to beat Marin Cilic in the Wimbledon quarter-final.
The difference between those two matches was his opponent. I didn't care about Cilic. But Nishikori I cared about, and I cared a lot. I can't explain what pushes my objective, detached admiration for a tennis player's skills over the edge to actually giving a shit about his/her results, actually wanting this person to win a grand slam. I don't know why I suddenly really fancied Nishikori when I'd admired his backhand for a long time now. I was just watching him on TV in Singapore because I was bored and there was some cool tennis on, and his backhand was orgasmic, and I liked the way he was mostly calm and collected on court, his quiet fist pumps when he won a point; I liked that he was not obnoxious, kept his head down, played his game quietly. Even when he reacted negatively to a fluffed shot, he barely made any exclamations out loud. I guess I kind of liked that. I guess it also played a factor, that he's Japanese, and it would be nice to see an Asian player win a grand slam in my favourite sport (really, the only sport that I care about).
I suppose all of that explains why I would say that I am a fan of Kei Nishikori. But I don't like him the way that I like Roger Federer. Even saying that 'I like Roger Federer' is a massive understatement. After all, my love affair with tennis all started with Federer: randomly chancing upon his Wimbledon match with Marat Safin in 2008, instantly thinking he was hot, then checking out his matches to see a hot man in action, then actually watching his matches for the tennis, and then picking up the sport myself...I am quite certain that I wouldn't be playing tennis today if it hadn't been for Roger Federer. And of course, I find him so utterly inspiring, the way his tennis blurs the line between sport and performance art, how his tennis - the perfection to which he strives - is almost (if not simply is) a Platonic Form, that a human being is able to be the absolute best at what he does, this embodiment of human endeavour and sheer talent... So I don't simply like Roger Federer; I admire him, and I find inspiration in what he's achieved, and what he continues to achieve.
Despite all that, when he smashed away the final Nishikori ball to claim victory in five sets after more than three hours, it felt remarkably bittersweet. Federer will always embody pure talent because that is what he is. He works hard like everyone else, but I genuinely do not think that there will ever be another tennis player who would ooze talent in its purest form the way Federer does. But because he is simply so innately good, he makes it look so easy and you forget the hard work that goes into transforming talent into result.
Nishikori reminds me of that. I wanted to see hard work pay off in the most important way in tennis; to see him win a slam. It was a good opportunity for him after Djokovic and Murray both lost, and so it was too bad that he had to play the best player ever (at least going by the number of grand slams won) in the fourth round.
Anyway, so much for all that. It goes without saying that Roger winning an 18th slam would be amazing, but I have got my hopes up for this just to have them crushed too many times now, so I would hold off the expectations until he actually reaches the final. If he plays Nadal in the final, though...fuck, that would be the worst.
Because I have been streaming these Australian Open matches, and because Federer/Nishikori was so long, I went over my Internet allowance.
It's at times like these that I hate living in college. I am 30 and I am subjected to an Internet allowance? What bullshit.
At dinner yesterday, he'd asked for bill but the waiter was taking a while to come over with the card machine. After a while, he went to the toilet; and while he was in the loo, the waiter was going to come over, but stopped himself when he saw that my date was in the toilet.
I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to pick up the tab. Although the spoiled princess-y part of me thought that I should just enjoy being pampered, the part of me that has way more pride than that told the spoiled princess-y part to stuff it.
I motioned to the waiter that I wanted to pay. He came over and said, 'Are you sure? I can wait till your man comes back.'
His saying 'your man' definitely sealed the decision for me. I said, 'Nah, I feel bad if he pays for everything.'
'Classy lady,' he replied.
Bruno came back. I told him that I'd already paid. He actually looked upset as he said, 'No! I don't like this.'
What I do like, though, was being chauffered to the restaurant, to the cinema, and then back to Magdalene. I really liked not having to walk back in the cold. I also liked that he remembers what I tell him. I was a bit concerned about whether he'd fix dinner at some weird time, i.e. after 8pm, especially since he's Spanish and Spanish people tend to eat quite late. But he remembered that I eat early-ish and planned accordingly.
I also liked that he mapped out a plan for our date, and acted accordingly when I said that, being Singaporean, I always book movie tickets in advance just in case it's sold out (because it's so disappointing to go to the cinema expecting to watch something, then being unable to do so because one didn't think to book tickets first). 'Leave it to me,' he said.
When waiting in line to pick up the tickets, he said that it was first time he'd ever bought movie tickets online.
This suddenly reminded me of the French prick and how he was too cheap to fork out 1 quid in booking fee when I wanted to buy movie tickets online.
I also like that he likes that I bring something different to the table in terms of the way I look at current affairs (if I bother at all). I like that he appreciates the differences.
I also like that he dresses well. I take care not to look like a slob when I show my face in public and it's important to me that the guy next to me is presentable too. If this is superficial, then so be it.
I like that he's keen. I didn't expect to see him today after spending quite a lot of time with him on Saturday, but when driving me back on Saturday, he said that he'd like to have coffee on Sunday after my lunch with Josh, John and Kasia (John's girlfriend).
I like that he treats me well. After dinner tonight, I thought I would walk back to Magdalene by myself since dinner was closer to where he lives; but he said he'd drive me home. We walked back to his to get to the car, and on the way there, he was obviously feeling quite cold. Then he admitted that he wanted to drive me because there was no way that he could walk me back to Magdalene and then walk home in the cold. That obviously suited me fine because I wasn't keen on walking back to Magdalene at all. I would take a ride in a convertible over a walk in the cold, cold winter night anytime.
I also like that he knows a thing or two about tennis, and that I can talk to him about tennis. Alas, he doesn't play; and alas, he likes Nadal. But I will take the good with the bad. The good includes him listening to me going on about Federer/Nishikori for the first few minutes of our date today.
I generally like the way he treats me. He makes me laugh and conversation is interesting. But it is still early days. We will see how things go.