July 3rd, 2011

Animals: Deer & Rabbit

Wimbledon Days 13 & 14

LADIES' FINAL

Maria Sharapova vs. Petra Kvitova

It wasn't the greatest ladies' final ever, it wasn't the greatest ladies' match of the tournament (that 'award' go to Venus Williams vs. Kimiko Date-Krumm), but it was nonetheless (even with Sharapova screaming her way through the match) a very good match. It didn't go to three sets, but the two sets were close and hard fought out and it was won, not lost.

They exchanged breaks in the first two games of the first set and then went on to hold their own serves, playing some great tennis, pushing one another to play better and some good rallies before Kvitova broke to take the first set.

During the second set they exchanged breaks several times as neither seemed able to win two games in a row before finally Kvitova held on to her serve in a tight game, the score was then 5:4 to Kvitova. I, the commentators and plutos_revenge (and probably a lot of other people) felt that Kvitova had to break Sharpova's serve to win the match, rather than having to serve it out. But Sharapova showed her true fighting spirit and held her serve.

At that point I would have put money on Kvitova's nerves (which she had for the most part kept well in check) prevailing and Sharapova breaking to level the match. I would have lost that bet. Not only did Kvitova's nerves seem to vanish, not only did she hold her serve she held it to love and won the match with an ace - her first of the match.

Sharapova was a very gracious loser and praised Kvitova not only in her on court 'chat' with Sue Barker, but later in her press conference when she openly admitted she'd been troubled by Kvitova's left handed, powerful serve and that Kvitova played the better tennis.

Petra Kvitova was a charming champion, she seemed not to really believe she'd won the title and also very gracious. She will be very good for the ladies' game. And with Sharapova (who let's not forget is only 24 and in an era when women seem to be playing much longer) back to her best, the next few years could be very interesting and enjoyable.

DOUBLES

Two doubles' finals were played yesterday. The Men's and the Ladies'.

Mike and Bob Bryan (the Bryan twins who were the #1 seeds and already ten time Grand Slam winners) easily won their match against Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau, beating the #8 seeds in straight sets. It wasn't an overly entertaining match, but it was a very high quality match - you can easily see why the Bryan brothers have won so many titles.

In the ladies' doubles the #2 seeded team of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik beat the first time playing together team and unseeded Samantha Stouser and Sabine Lisicki. The match started really well and promised to be close and entertaining, but then the Stouser and Lisicki's game (and in particular serve) deserted them and in the end Peschke and Srebotnik showed why they were seeded #2 and showed they were used to playing doubles together. They won in straight sets.

MEN'S FINAL

Today Rafael Nadal (#1 seed) takes on Novak Djokovic (#2 seed) in a match that promises so much and in many ways has more than just the Wimbledon title at stake. Whatever happens Djokovic will formally become World #1 tomorrow, so as one newspaper said today 'it's a match between the World #1s'.

Both men will be under pressure and both have things to prove:

Djokovic has the pressure of being the best player in the world this year, having only lost one match in the semi finals of the French Open to Federer. He also has just taken the World #1 slot from Rafa and so winning Wimbledon to take his second Grand Slam of the year would in effect 'prove' (if any more proof was needed) that he is the best player in the world at the moment. He's also beaten Rafa in four finals this year (two on Rafa's beloved clay). Okay so they were all in three set matches and as Djokovic himself has said, Rafa over five sets is completely different from Rafa over three sets. He's playing in his first Wimbledon final and whilst he's played in other Grand Slam finals and won Grand Slams, all players will tell you Wimbledon is different, the history, the sense of ceremony, it's not just 'another match'.

Rafa himself has the pressure of being the #1 seed. Also of having not lost at Wimbledon since Federer beat him in the 2007 final. Also, of not having lost a Grand Slam final to anyone but Federer (not counting today he's played twelve and won ten, his two losses have been here at Wimbledon in 2006 and 2007 to Federer). He also has the pressure of the four losses this year to Djokovic, can he remember how to beat Djokovic? Despite the four losses this year he has a winning record of 16:11 and maybe crucially he has beaten Djokovic in every Grand Slam match they've played, including the US Open final last year, a surface many said Rafa would never conquer. So two of those Grand Slams 'wins' were down to Djokovic retiring, but nonetheless they were wins.

To my mind the key to winning the match today will be more in the mind than on the grass. We know both men are playing exception tennis, they are the best two players in the world at the moment (whoever wins today's match will have won two Grand Slams this year), they both have the game to win, they both respect one another and one another's game, they know one another's game so well, they are both fit - Djokovic who used to struggle with fitness is a different man this year.

For Rafa to prevail I think he has to forget the four losses to Djokovic this year and remember what he did to a) beat Federer in the French Open five weeks ago b) what he did to beat Murray two days ago and most importantly c) what he did to beat Djokovic in the US Open last year.

For Djokovic to beat Rafa he has to forget he's lost to Rafa in every other Grand Slam match they've played and remember what he did to beat Rafa in four finals this year.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? *g*

For the first time this year we did see the 'other' Djokovic, the man who used to turn up quite frequently, quite a bit in his quarter final win over Tomic and even flashes during his win over Marcos Baghdatis (when he brutally but also coldly and  clinically smashed his racquet. Will that Djokovic show himself at all today? If he does, the match is Rafa's with no question. But two bursts of the 'old' Djokovic against all the other 'new' Djokovic appearances this year are not good odds.

I'm going to stick with Rafa emerging the winner as he is my favourite player and I have called him from the beginning. But I do fear by the end of today I'll be disappointed. Having said that my good friend and fellow tennis lover plutos_revenge did successfully predict her favourite Roger Federer's loss not only in this year's quarter final but also in last year's and also about Sabine Lisicki in this year's quarter's. She's predicted Rafa in four and having been so right, she can't be wrong, right? *Grins* *Eyes her very, very carefully*

*Swallows hard*

My prediction:

Four or five sets, a close, entertaining, well fought match with Rafa emerging the winner.

But good luck to both Rafa and Nole - may the better man win.
Animals: Deer & Rabbit

Thirty Day Fan Fiction Writing Meme. Day #03

Once again snaggled from dinozzoitis

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Day 03 – For each of the fandoms from day two, what were your favourite characters to write?

I'm going to exclude the four fandoms in which I've only written fewer than five stories I don't feel one story (in three cases) or three (in the other) really gives a fair judgement.

It's a difficult question as I like all the characters I write about - I wouldn't write them if I didn't. Plus, they all have their strengths and weaknesses and particular characteristics that makes them fun to write.

Starsky & Hutch: Ken 'Hutch' Hutchinson. He's my favourite character and I find it somewhat easier to get inside his mind than I do with Starsky.

The Professionals: Ray Doyle. Again, he's my favourite character and for me is the more diverse and dichotomous character. He's

Due South: This is a really difficult one. I'm going to go with Benton Fraser (even though I do prefer Ray Vecchio slightly over him). Fraser is easier in many ways to write as far as speech patterns and being more formal goes.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Illya Kuryakin. I'm back to my favourite character. I just really enjoy writing Illya, he is very multi-layered and a challenge to write, but in a good way.

NCIS: The hardest of all. However, I'm going to go with Doctor Donald 'Ducky' Mallard, who is my equal favourite character. I find Ducky a doddle to write. Maybe it's the fact that he's British (and I am) and whilst I don't have his background, education or intelligence I've always been told I speak well and I regard myself as fairly well educated, which makes him easy to write. I also have a lot of fun writing him; I enjoy writing 'Ducky educates' stories and his story telling stories. He's just a great character to write.

Buffyverse: Rupert Giles. Again he's British, formal, uptight, doesn't always (make that often) understand the popular culture, etc. etc. He's another good fit for me *g* I really enjoy writing him.

The Sandbaggers: Neil Burnside. In many ways he is a lot like Giles and he's easier to write than the more laid back Willie.

Sapphire & Steel: Steel. Steel yet again with the formal, aloof, not understanding popular culture, etc. etc. Also, Steel is great fun to write because in truth we know very little about him (or the others). We see examples of his 'powers' i.e. he can take his body temperature down to zero, he can tie lift cables with his hands and more, but we don't know all about them. Thus, it's easy to stick with what we know from canon but also, at the same time, expand on these abilities and play with them. He is very enjoyable to write.

Inspector Lynley: This is another difficult one as I enjoy writing both Thomas 'Tommy' Lynley and Barbara Havers very much - they are both so very different. Not only are they different genders, but they are from different classes, they have different upbringings, different outlooks, different cultures, everything about them is opposite almost. It's a different challenge than writing most pairings. I'll go with Lynley just, partly because most fanfic I write is male-centric.

Sherlock Holmes: Doctor John Watson. When I write Holmes fiction, I always write in the first person and all but one of my stories have been from Watson's POV. I find him an easier character to understand, to get my head around and thus more enjoyable to write. I also like to write Holmes through his eyes.

M*A*S*H: Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce. Hawkeye is a lot of fun to write, again he's my favourite character and again he has more diversity to his character and is a lot more dichotomous than the others. He's very multi-layered.

Looking at my choices it seems that in most cases (but not all) my favourite character to write is also my favourite character over all. And also in most cases my preferred character to write is the most diverse, the more dichotomous, the more-multi-layered character.
Animals: Deer & Rabbit

Wimbledon Day 14

MEN'S FINAL

Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic

I said earlier today I feared I'd be disappointed by the result today - and I was correct. Novak Djokovic won in four sets.

But it's fair to say Djokovic did win the match; on the day he played better tennis than Rafa did. It's a rare bird that can out rally Rafa and out audacious return Rafa, today Djokovic did both. Rafa didn't play his best tennis and did make several uncharacteristic mistakes, but a lot of that was because he had to try that little bit harder to try to match and beat Djokovic.

I can see now just why Djokovic has only lost one match this year and why he had beaten Rafa four times in finals this year. He really is a completely different man and player this year. He didn't let Rafa into the match until the third set. There were times he made Rafa look like an ordinary player. Rafa's forehand was off and he made more unforced errors than he normally does, more I think than any other match in the tournament, but so much of that was caused by Djokovic making him have to hit another shot and another and . . . Yes, he did to Rafa what Rafa does to just about everyone else.

I'd thought the pressure would be slightly on Djokovic more than on Rafa, but it was the other way round. Djokovic did win the mental battle; I'm sure the four losses this year did play on Rafa's mind - again that showed in Rafa' forehand deserting him.

I dared to hope when Rafa won the third set, but deep down and in my head I called it as Djokovic in four - darn I hate bring right. Ah, well, plutos_revenge's got the number of sets right, just not the winner *Eyes her closely* But it really was Djokovic's day.

It wasn't a truly stellar match, it wasn't like 2007, 2008 and 2009 - it was excellent in parts, some superb rallies and great play by both men. It was a good match, better than last year, but not the match people were hoping for and expecting.

Both men made nice speeches, both very complimentary about the other player and about their respective teams - which is always good to see. Courteous and respectful in defeat as well as in victory.

Kudos to Novak Djokovic, he deserved the win. And again he did win - despite Rafa not being at his best, Djokovic beat him, Rafa didn't lose the match.

Just one more match to go now, the Mixed Doubles' Final.

Well done Novak Djokovic on the day he was the better player.