Slightly Frustrating

… is having the 4th nice day in the past 5 weeks come along and you have to cut your planned second-day marathon tennis practice session short because of … blisters.

Seriously?!? I’ve got calluses up to (points chin) here, I religiously go and see Miss Rosy Palm, and now you lay some soft hand shit down on me? Why, tennis gods, why?!? (Proper form is a bitch, I guess.) I did play until the one in the heel of my palm burst and I got blood all over my overgrip so it wasn’t a 30 second surrender, but still… Captain Never Enough strikes again!

Oh, and I’m back to getting nice and red in approximately 0.7 minutes of sunshine apparently.

Other than that, it was a great day. Seriously. Ghostfinger was awesome and we got lots of time together. We fed a squirrel some grapes (and my still good-and planned to be eaten-peanuts!). Saw some cool birds. Watched stuff. It was cool.

Oh, also: nuskin or superglue are pretty good, athletic or medical tape not so much. I only had tape on the courts, so I alternately cut off blod flow to my hand and/or got blood all over the racquet. Good times. Problem with nuskin is that everything smells like that stuff for at least 7 hours after you put it on. Dinner? Nuskin. Toothpaste? Nuskin.

Andy Murray

This is old, but here’s some great tennis:

I fully enjoy both Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal (who, along with Federer, are my favorite 3 to watch), but the player I most enjoy is Murray. His court movement is fantastic (it’s better now than in the video above), his 2-handed backhand is the best I’ve seen, and as you can see in the above clip, his down the line forehand is monstrous. Plus, I think Murray and Fed are the best strategists currently on tour (watch the above when Murray starts throwing in soft shots amongst all the pace), which is fun to watch and think about. Like a great jazz soloist or chess champion, it becomes apparent down the road what the setup was all along. Fed has better technical footwork, but Murray glides … like a dancer. There’s a grace there you don’t see often. I’m absolutely jealous of Murray’s footwork. And backhand. And talent.

Here’s their 2008 US Open match (Murray won). Watch Murray’s footwork:

Watch Murray’s movement, court coverage, and return of serve preparation – all way above where they were a year before. He’s still improving and will be, I think, the next new #1 player in the game (Fed may retake it again, I don’t see Rafa having a multi-year stranglehold on the spot, and I don’t see Djokivic in the top 3). Unlike Rafa, Murray’s serve is a strength (Rafa’s is merely adequate), which is a great help on hard courts and non-2008 Wimbledon (which was slower than in previous years, to Rafa’s benefit and Federer’s detriment). As a side bonus, unlike Rafa, you can actually learn from and attempt to emulate Murray’s technique.

Rafa’s one of those singularities – an inimitable freak of nature (among other things, he’s actually a righty who plays lefty). He’s all energy and enthusiasm and fun, and he’s no slouch in the strategy department, but to-date he’s never really had to strategize as his sheer physical skills and refusal to give up on any point keep him matches that could be a bit shorter if he thought ahead a couple more moves. I think he’s a great player, but until he gets a better serve he’ll be limited in success on hard courts. He seems like a really genuine, nice guy … with OCD, some mania, and a supreme focus on tennis.

Federer is, of course, amazing and probably the best player of all time. But that’s for another day. Or another writer.

Back to Murray. Here he is practicing groundies – notice the footwork and the pace even when he’s just practicing. That he probably has 6″ precision throughout is standard for the good pros, but still a sight to behold for someone like me. Good times.