06 January 2008

"Chennai Open 2008 Semifinal match"

Chennai Open resembles India in a microcosmic way.

Hundreds of fans waited outside the gates; unable to occupy the hundreds of seats reserved for and left empty by “very important people”. The PR machinery is smart. As soon as the Press pointed out that seats are left empty, they enrolled volunteers from amongst “friends and relatives” to occupy the seats and vacate if/when the officers come in.

In spite of this mismanagement, the Government of Tamil Nadu, Tamil Nadu Tennis Association and Vijay Amritraj have kept Chennai in the ATP tour map and have managed to bring some very charismatic players to Chennai for the last twelve years. I am lucky to have attended the event for eleven of the last twelve years!

Yesterday's semi finals match was awesome.

One of them is on his way down. He was World Number One for several years. At thirty one and after hundreds of matches, staying within the top twenty is a testimony to his commitment to the game. He exudes a calm confidence in exceptionally tense moments. The crowd backs him as if he were an Amritraj or a Bhoopathy. Can you imagine five thousand voices chanting “Moya, Moya”? Carlos Moya played an extraordinary game yesterday.

The other is on his way up. He is World Number Two. At twenty one with several championships to his credit, it is no wonder he exudes energy every moment he is on court. Against any other opponent he would have been the crowd’s favorite. Not against Moya. Energy, power, speed and accuracy are displayed by him in every shot. (I have not seen someone stand midway at the back court and hit an “inside out” forehand with such a speed. With that shot, who needs a net game?). Rafael Nadal too played an extraordinary game yesterday.

The first set ended 6-6. Carlos Moya clipped it in a tie breaker.
The second set ended 6-6. Rafael Nadal clipped it in a tie breaker.
The third set ended 6-6. Rafel Nadal clipped it in a tie breaker and won the match.

Their game yesterday, was the second best I ever saw.

(No match can be better than the Pete Sampras vs Jim Courier Australian Open Quarter finals in 1995. Two sets each. Fifth was a tie breaker. Both were equal for a long while. In the end, a shot by Jim Courier landed on the net, remained balanced atop the net for a very brief while and fell, to his disappointment, into his court. When asked how he felt about it, Jim Courier said “Well, it could have fallen the other way!”. Pete did not say anything. He just wept).

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