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Meltdown of the Week


Finding Roger Federer Meltdown footage on YouTube is like finding a seat on the Number 4 Lexington Avenue subway at 9:30 in the morning. [Non-New Yorkers, take note: it's rare.] The Greatest of All Time usually deals with blown shots by dragging his middle finger across his forehead and tucking his hair behind his ear. Not this time. This was a semi-final match with Novak Djokovic at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. Djokovic just broke Fed in the third and deciding set and was up 15-0 when the Greatest of All Time took his eyes off a routine approach shot that could have evened the score. Federer went through lots of racquets when he was playing the junior circuit; wonder if he felt a little wave of nostalgia upon banging this one hard into the court.

On the Sideline

Entries in Andy Murray (8)


Miami Men's Final: March Madness Overtakes Ferrer, CBS

David Ferrer beat himself in the Sony Open final against Andy Murray, succumbing to heat, humidity, cramps, and the US Open and Olympic champ in a third set tiebreak that didn't have to be.

Courtesy Getty Images/Matthew Stockman.

Ferrer suffered a brain fart during championship point, 5-4, against Murray's serve

Click to read more ...


Murray Swears He Didn't Make No Swearing Pledge

Murray at Brisbane: Betcha he's muttering, "this thing is fucking heavy!" Courtesy: USATodayNew Year's resolutions are made to be broken, and it took Andy Murray less than a week into 2013 to break his resolve to not swear so much on the court.

Murray, as Reuters reports, said last month that he wanted to clean up his dirty mouth.  "Obviously, me saying 'shit' or whatever is bad and wrong, and it's something I want to try to stop doing," said Murray. 

Bad and wrong?  When it comes to tennis, Haters, I think swearing is right and just, and necessary.  There are no better words in the English language to describe volleying a floater into the net than "fucking piece of shit."

But the doom-and-gloom Scot was just as potty-mouthed as ever during an Australian Open tune-up.  Audible obscenities were heard from his end of the court during his early round matches at the Brisbane International.

He later claimed he never made any vow to stop swearing.

"I was doing an interview over the phone. I got asked about swearing on the court. I said 'obviously I don't mean to do it. I don't want to do it. Sometimes you get frustrated and you do and obviously I will try to stop.'

"I didn't make any promises or guarantees that I was going to."

You bet your sweet ASS he's a champ. Courtesy USATodayHe said other players swear just as much, and say far worse things about their opponents' mothers and such, but people -- and, presumably, chair umpires -- don't notice because they're using non-English cuss words.

"So where I would obviously love to stop doing it, I try not to. But I can't guarantee it."

Andy, I totally get it.  I, too, want to stop swearing on court, but dammit, I just can't!

While his non-swearing resolution is already down the toilet, any resolution the world number three made to become number one this year got a strong start Down Under.  He defeated defeated Grigor Dimitrov, 7-6(0), 6-4, to take his second-straight Brisbane International title, his first title for the new year and his 25th overall.


Murray: Hard Work Pays Off, Even Without Vomiting

Murray, smiling, or trying to. Photo courtesy of Reuters.Haters, I'll have to remove Andy Murray from favorite son status of I Hate Tennis. He's unrecognizable, physically and mentally, from the sulking, swearing player who let his mind get in the way of his considerable gifts.

Consider this comment he made after finishing his 2012 season with a semifinal loss to Roger Federer in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in front of his countrymen in London on Sunday: 

"I would have liked to have finished with a win, but that didn't happen.  But for me, it's been the best year of my career by a mile," he said.  

Murray says his success will motivate him to work hard next month, when he begins what sounds like a grueling off-season training regimen.  But first, a more grueling task: finding a Christmas gift for his coach, Ivan Lendl.    

More on that in a moment.  But first -- Murray, focusing on the positive?  Haters, let us pause to consider this miraculous makeover.  To quote another sulker, John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious."

The Sunny Scot beamed on.  Here's more from the ATP's report:

"Why I would look back on that [his accomplishments this year] negatively now would be silly because I've achieved things I've never achieved before. I have to look back on it positively. If I don't, then that would be worrying.”

News flash, Haters: worrying about your shots is not the way to improve them.  Murry told reporters he may have lost in the end to Federer, 7-6(5), 6-2, but he was pleased -- yes, he used that word, pleased -- with how he continued to try to make things happen on the court, to think about ways to win matches "rather than waiting for my opponent to lose them."

The 25-year-old has had a breakthrough year.  He reached the finals of Wimbledon, the first Brit to do so since 1938.  He lost to Federer and cried on Centre Court during the post-match interview, but didn't let those tears dampen his resolve during the rest of the season.  Two weeks later, he beat Federer on that same court to take Olympic gold, then won his first major by beating defending champ Novak Djokovic at the US Open.

Murray elaborated on his new I Love Tennis outlook in for BBC Sport.  

"Sometimes when you lose a tough match or a big final, you spend the next few days thinking, 'Is it worth it? Is all the training making a difference? Will I ever be good enough to win one of these big events?'" Just the next few DAYS spent ruminating like that, Andy?  Me, I've taken the I Hate Tennis pledge as a Monthly Sustainer.

"I've been through so many highs and lows already," Murray told BBC Sport's Piers Newbery, "and to experience the sort of highs that I did in the summer made me realize it absolutely was worth it."

I've never actually got as far as vomiting in training, but I've certainly felt like it.

Absolutely worth it to train so hard, Murray can't take a breath.

"Most people would normally stop when they're struggling to breathe," said Murray, proving he's not only a master of the tennis court, but of the understatement. "But if you push yourself through that, you might feel horrible at the time but you'll feel better once you get off the machine or the track. It's pushing it that extra bit that makes all the difference."

But even Iron Man Murray has a breaking point.

"I've never actually got as far as vomiting in training [...] but I've certainly felt like it. Many, many times I've ended a session flat on my back with the world spinning above me."

Glad he got that off his chest, if not his stomach.  It humbles me to think Murray is putting in that kind of work, and wondering about the usefulness of it all when he loses.  What's my excuse, with just one lesson a week?  I'm not struggling to breathe, Haters, I'm just struggling.   

Meanwhile, Murray reveals his current struggle is not with being aggressive on the court or living in the "what if's" of a semifinal loss in the season-ending London event.  It's finding a Christmas present for Coach Lendl, who rarely smiles while watching his charge, even when Murray won Olympic gold and the US Open trophy.

He says he's considering giving Lendl a sense of humor.  


Meltdown of the Week, October 13th, 2012: Novak Djokovic at Shanghai Masters

Haters, it's been a while since Novak Djokovic has had a really good I Hate Tennis moment, because he's been loving tennis so much.  The Serb is 10-0 since losing to Andy Murray in the US Open final in September.  He leads the ATP World Tour with 70 match wins and has, along with the US Open crown, trophies from the Australian Open, Sony Open in Miami and the Rogers Cup in Toronto sitting on his mantel.

But that was all forgotten when he blew this lengthy, thrilling point at the Shanghai Rolex Masters today against Murray, who was seeking his third consecutive Shanghai title.  Murray breaks him to serve for the first set at 6-5.  No smiles for the Djoker, who seems intent on pushing his racquet through the surface of the court.

High speed smashingPutting weight into it

Here's the pitch......Strike three, yer out!






What's amazing and admirable is that Djokovic regrouped to win the title.  He took the second set, fighting off Murray who, at one point, was serving for the set at 5-4, 30-0.  Two more points, and the match was his.

Here's how ATP World Tour's website described the Djokovic comeback: The Djokovic fightback began in the following point. He hit a ‘tweener to claw his way back into an exchange that Murray was winning and clinched it with a drop shot. Murray had his first match point at 40/30, but a forehand winner from Djokovic thwarted the Scot. Murray then hit a forehand long on a break point for Djokovic to surrender his advantage.

A pulsating tie-break followed, with Murray squandering four more match points at 6-4, 8-7 and 10-9 before Djokovic converted his fourth set point with a forehand winner to send the contest into a deciding set.

Murray fended off a break point in the fifth game of the third set, but could not keep Djokovic at bay in the seventh game as the Belgrade native engineered a 4-3 lead. Murray saved two match points on serve down 3-5, but Djokovic converted his third opportunity to claim a memorable victory. 

So, is this an example of a "healthy" meltdown, one where Nole demolished his racquet and then put the first set behind him?  Is there such a thing?  Sometimes I hear commentators giving players kudos for showing their emotions on the court.  Other times, they sniff and stiffly say they should bottle up their emotions and focus on the next point.  

I think tennis hate is universal.  There's no getting around the frustration of missing a shot you should have had, or making the same mistakes over and over again, even though you tell yourself you should know better. But I, for one, can't afford the luxury of smashing my racquet.  I'm not getting them for free. I also find it too difficult to surf the rage wave and transition quickly back to calm, tranquil mental waters.  

But Djokovic?  He apparently knows how to swim with the sharks.  Swing away, Nole, swing away.  And keep racking up those broken racquets and titles.  


Exhausted Olympians Dropping Like Flies at Rogers Cup

Screaming in pain? Who knows, it's Victoria Azarenka. Courtesy AP.Victoria Azarenka won gold in mixed doubles and bronze in singles last week in the London Olympics, turning her knees to tin for this week's Rogers Cup in Montreal.  She withdrew from the tournament, citing a knee injury.

She was tied, 3-3, in her second-round match against Tamira Paszek when it was suspended by rain.  That must have given her the chance to realize just how spent she was.

"I have to kind of stop and just take a little bit of time off because I absolutely had no rest for a long period of time," said Vika.  She's skipping the Western and Southern Open next week in Cincinnati, to rest up for the US Open.

Going down swinging, and swigging Pepto Bismol. Maria out with tummy ache. Courtesy AP. She joins Olympic silver medalist Maria Sharapova on the sidelines.  Sharapova withdrew Wednesday because of a virus.  She's also bypassing Cincy.  And 4th seed Samantha Stosur will find no redemption for her surprise first round ouster at the London Games.  She was booted by 16th seed Luci Safarova in two close sets, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5) in the Round of 16.   

The top men are also in a post-London fog.  Gold medal winner Andy Murray pulled out yesterday, saying he had a knee injury.  Roger Federer withdrew a week ago.  "After a long stretch of tournaments, I'll need some time to recover," he said at the time.

And this was before he played in the Olympic championship final against Murray.

Rafael Nadal has been home in Spain with his feet up since Wimbledon (the Slam, not the Olympics; the defending 2008 gold medalist didn't defend his title, out with knee tendonitis). So defending Rogers Cup champ Novak Djokovic is all alone in Canada.  He and Tommy Haas were on serve in the deciding third set of their quarterfinal match at the time I was writing this in the late, late hours of Friday night.  Would love to watch it, but even has gone to bed.

Olympic exhaustion and injury will be the corrosive threads in the warp and weave of the hard court season.  It will play a factor at the US Open.  I think there could be early round upsets and injury retirements for some of the top seeds.  

Keep that in mind when you make up your I Hate Tennis US Open Cake Brackets in a few weeks, Haters!


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