May 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Scenario: Court Philippe Chatrier, Paris. Time: uh… after the ladies match. Picture: the noisy French crowd goes quiet. The lights go down and Bruce Buffer is standing in the middle of the court, where the umpire should be for the toss.
They slowly walk in, first the Swede, carrying his Head strings, lowered head, strong steps, walking towards his chair. The Spaniard is next. He waives to the crowd with a timid smile showing two or three teeth between his lips. They do all the formalities, follow the script, and start hitting and warming up. Buffer takes over. The spotlight (what?) is on Rafael Nadal now.
“Laaaaadies and gentlemen. Here we are, the biggest event, the main card, closing the day. The heavyweight clash… AAAARE YOU REEEEADY? On the red corner, a 45-time ATP, nineteen-times Masters Series, nine-time Grand Slam and fiiiiive-time Roland Garros champion, coming from the beautiful resort of Manacor, Spain. A little boy prodigy, the current top-seed, world number 1 and defending champion, he survived John Isner in the first round, Pablo Andujar in the second, Antonio Veic in the third and Ivan Ljubicic in order to get here in the final eight. Owner of an astonishing 42-1 lifetime record in Roland Garros, the one and only… Rafaeeeeeeeeeeeeel “The Bull” Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-dal!”
Crowd explodes. Nadal waives. Everybody freaks out. Mr. Buffer keeps going.
“And in the blue corner, straight from Tilbro, Sweden, a nine-time ATP champion, three of them won this year, he had his breakthrough on this very same court two years ago, against this very same opponent. The only Swedish player in the top-200, keeping the traditions alive, the man who conquered his first Masters Title in this same Paris city last year. He is best known for doing very well in Roland Garros. The six-feet-four, big serving, big forehand Monte Carlo resident, he is also known as “King” and accounts for the “1” in Nadal’s record. Aiming for his third consecutive French Open semifinal, and the first title, defeating USA’s Ryan Harrison, Spain’s Albert Ramos, the Argentine Leonardo Mayer and the local Gilles Simon, dropping only one set, the cold Scandinavian, Rooooooooooooooobinnnnnnnnnnnn “The Alba-troooooooossssssss” Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooder-ling!”
Mixed crowd, echoing in applause and boos. Söderling keeps focused, his mean-face staring his prey in the eyes, while he hits backhands. He raises his right hand a bit and salutes his fans – and haters.
“These two monsters will fight for the third consecutive year in the second Grand Slam record, with one victory apiece, even though Nadal leads the overall head-to-head five-to-two, having won their last two meetings. The umpire tonight is…”
They toss the coin. Bruce Buffer leaves the court, taking his seat in the private boxes. Everything is quiet now. Nadal bounces the ball.
“Nadal to serve, first set.”