Liveblogging the Australian Open Final

This “liveblog” will be updated periodically as I watch Roger Federer vie for his 14th Grand Slam against world #1 Rafael Nadal.

8:20 am – Final score: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2. That’s it for me. Have a good day and enjoy the Super Bowl

8:17 am – It’s funny that the first moments after winning or losing a major tennis championship are spent tidying one’s gear into one’s bag. That just wouldn’t happen in baseball, football, or hockey. Can you imagine, upon winning the World Series, the team taking the time to tidy their bats, make sure their helmets were in their cubbies, etc. No way!

8:15 am – Federer forehand long – Nadal wins! Game. Set. Match. Championship.

8:13 am – Props to Federer on saving two match points. Gut wrenching stuff.

8:08 am – Rafa looks like he was good money. The Nadal family box is entertaining. They are young in spirit, smartly dressed, and consistently standing. Federer’s box on the other hand is always seated and pensive.

8:07 am – Either way NIKE wins, right?

7:57 am – Roger’s nervers get the best of him – loses serve. Nadal leads the final set 3-1. Uh oh! This could be over in a matter of minutes.

7:56 am – I am endlessly impressed by one-handed backhands. It must require a great deal of skill and practice to hit with power and control.

7:52 am – No commercials in the final set! Like watching the Masters.

7:41 am – All square. I could have woken up now and it kinda would have been the same.

7:26 am – Federer holds. If this goes to a 5th set, Nadal might have it. His adrenaline will overpower Federer’s remaining strength.

7:11 am – Just an afterthought: Growing up I watched Pete Sampras duel with Andre Agassi. I never thought I would see the kind of tennis they seemed to be able to play. But, now that Nadal has stepped up his game beyond just clay courts, these guys captivate me almost as much as Peet and Andre. I have to say though… Sampras would never double-fault to lose a critical set in a major.

7:08 am – Nadal breaks back. Not sure How I feel about this. Concurrently reading assignments for Judicial Opinion Drafting.

7:05 am – Oh, Federer. If only you could have broken last set we could wrap this match up before breakfast.

6:56 am – Rafa takes the third set in a tiebreaker, 7-3. Federer looks tight. I want a donut.

6:48 am – “Tiebreak to decide the third [set].” ESPN keeps cutting to Roger’s girlfriend. She looks worried. Looks like she just thanked the heavens that Roger held.

6:42 am – It’s getting light outside. I’m wondering if it’s too early to do my laundry.

6:35 am – Both Federer and Nadal look fatigued right now – Federer because he hasn’t capitalized on any of the break point chances and Nadal because he keeps almost losing his serve.

6:30 am – Great service by Nadal. I no longer have to pull for him as the underdog. I’m getting what I wanted – a close match worth waking up for.

6:15 am – Okay, I’m getting up for real and watching this. It looks good. Third set on serve with one set each.

4:45 am – Wake up see, see that tennis is on, fall back asleep.

4:00 am – Alarm goes off and I that Federer was broken in his first service game – the first game of the match. I watch him break back against Nadal.

Tiger vs. Federer

Who is more dominant, Tiger Woods or Roger Federer? Tiger is 30 years old. He’s been playing on the PGA Tour for ten years and has twenty years to go. Roger is 26 years old. He’s been playing on the ATP Tour for eight years and could have five to ten years left.

When we look at majors in golf, Jack Nicklaus holds the record with 18. Tiger has won 13 in ten years. Pete Sampras holds the most major titles in tennis with 13. Roger has won 12 majors in eight years as a pro.

In half as much time since his first major win, Federer has accumulated just one less major championship title than Woods. Federer has also won three majors in one year three times. Tiger has done that just once.

For four years running, Federer has won two or more majors. Tiger has only won two majors two years in a row in 2005 and 2006.

It looks like Federer is more dominant, but it is unlikely he will finish his career with more majors than Tiger. After all, the Champions Series, which is the tennis version of the Senior PGA Tour, has a minimum age of 30. The minimum age for the SPGA is 50.

Fined for Lack of Effort?!?!

Can you imagine being fined for “lack of effort”?

Fourth ranked men’s professional tennis player Nikolay Davydenko was fined $2000 for just that after losing a match in his home country of Russia to a player ranked outside the top 100.

How’s that for the ol’ heave ho… sigh… sputter… can I go home yet?

Allegations of match-fixing have been flying around for a while in professional tennis, and it’s just now coming to fruition. The organizations are considering an “integrity unit,” whatever that is.

How easy would it be to tell if a top ranked golfer was “mailing it in”? And does it even matter?

I can’t get beyond the “does it matter” question. Golf is such a fickle game that a player in the zone one day can play horribly the next. There is a margin these guys play within, and it’s fairly tight, but even the best players in the world will post a round in the high 70s a few times a year. A round which could be accused of lacking effort.

If the player knows he’s well outside the cut or not in contention on Sunday, some “lack of effort” can be presumed. It’s like a nod to the golf gods that he’ll save his best for the next tournament.

So, does it matter if a player tries his hardest? It might matter to the individual player and his image, but it likely doesn’t matter to the tournament.

Golf has long been known for it’s emphasis on self-regulation. It’s often said that if you want to teach your kids integrity, have them take up golf. Every round of golf offers the opportunity to cheat and to cheat yourself by giving in by becoming apathetic. What builds character is persevering when your fades are hooking and you’re hitting out of divots.

However, there’s no direct opponent in stroke play, so throwing a match isn’t possible. Even if a player does “check out early,” his impact on the tournament is far less noticeable than when a top ranked tennis player throws a match. And no one at home can tell when a golfer is displaying a “lack of effort.”

One of the many great things about televised golf is that it ignores most golfers (excepting Tiger Woods) when they’re not playing well. It’s tough to pull away from a featured tennis match.

(Or maybe professional golf needs an integrity committee along with it’s new drug testing policy.)