IKEA flat packs & Wimbledon champs. Don’t screw up Andy!

1 07 2011

I’m thinking of advertising my services as an IKEA flat pack furniture assembly expert.

This will come as quite a surprise to many, not least me, given a previous, total aversion to DIY – that can be traced back to many hapless hours spent in the school wood-workshop, splitting and splintering, in forlorn pursuit of the perfect mortise and tenon or dovetail joint and the holy grail of a toothbrush rack, or some other equally exciting end product, that might just be good enough to avoid being consigned to the scrap-bin!     

Having recently moved into an unfurnished, Oxford, flat number one daughter promptly set about furnishing it with all things IKEA. This process appears to consist of an hour or so, with a cup of coffee and a Twix biscuit, browsing through a catalogue, agonising over birch or oak veneer finishes, before eventually placing an online order.   

The rest is down to Dad and his trusty ‘Phillips’ screwdrivers!  

On two visits, to date, and in spite of, rather than assisted by, IKEA’s assembly instructions, I’ve managed to knock up a dining table, four dining chairs, a double bed and a wardrobe, while three more flat packs are waiting in the wings, a bedside table, a chest of drawers and a ‘Billy’ bookcase!

Given that my assembly methods require plenty of space (to spread out the kit – which always seem to contain twice as pieces as anticipated) and involve lots of huffing, puffing and cussing when things don’t readily fit (which is quite often), I have found it better playing the role of ‘IKEA fairy’ by flitting in and out while Nicci is at work.

Luckily I’ve had Radio Five Live to keep me company. Nicky Campbell, Victoria Derbyshire and Richard Bacon are a great support, while Clare Balding’s commentaries from SW19 have been a breath of fresh air.        

Talking of which, what of this year’s Championships at the All England Club?

The sliding centre court roof which, as luck would have it, was hardly called upon for two tournaments following its installation, has been a real boon this time around, ensuring uninterrupted play, late into the evening, whatever the conditions outside.

The tennis, like the weather, has been mixed (not just in the doubles!), dreadfully dull spells interspersed with moments of dazzling brilliance.

The Williams sisters, both back from lengthy absences due to injury, thankfully fell by the wayside. I only say this because if either had made it to the final, in such a relatively under prepared state, it would have been a cruel indictment of the current state of the women’s game.

They have both been tremendous champions, one or other lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish in all but two finals this century, and I’m sure we’ve not seen the last of them.

But this year, Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, having battled her way to a maiden grand slam final, following her semi-final defeat of the yelping Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), will face former champion Maria Sharapova, who is a bit of a screamer herself, in this year’s final.

Since the Russian first burst on to the Wimbledon scene, as a 17-year-old champion, seven years ago, she has subsequently stuttered and stalled at the home of tennis. It wasn’t all plain sailing, either, in her latest semi-final victory,  over Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, which was littered with an amazing 13 double faults!                   

Kvitova is the first left-hander (supposedly always an advantage in tennis) to reach the women’s final since all-time great, Czech American, Martina Navratilova. I fancy she will give Sharapova a good run for her roubles, but I’ll take Maria to produce the screeching winners when it counts!

In the men’s game, everything was shaping up for a meeting of the ‘fab four’ in today’s semi-finals. That is until Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, of France, pulled off one of the most audaciously exciting, come backs in Wimbledon history. 

Roger Federer, at his imperious best, two sets to love up and apparently coasting in their quarter-final meeting, was blown away in an amazingly athletic display of power hitting by Tsonga. The Frenchman was certainly on song, and having danced his way to victory, treated the centre court fans to a celebratory Ali shuffle.

I felt sorry for Federer, who was gracious in defeat, an alien concept for so much of his record-breaking career. The cloak of invincibility is slipping away and the colours of this great artist are slowly fading. He is desperate to equal Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon titles, which not many would deny him, but his Swiss clock appears to be fast running down. Hopefully the cuckoo will pop out, for one last winning bow, next year!   

Tsonga’s performance was so stunning, the big question is can he reach and sustain the same level of performance all the way through to Sunday’s final?

He is first on court in a semi-final pairing with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, currently World number two, who has enjoyed a wonderfully successful year but is yet to hit his straps at this tournament.

I rather fancy Tsonga has had his moment in the spotlight for this year, and Djokovic will step up a gear to reach his first Wimbledon final. But who will he be up against?

In the second semi it’s yet another Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray showdown.

Few would argue that the left-handed Spaniard, at his best, is indisputably the top player in the world. Grass may not be his preferred surface, but it will come as an enormous surprise if he slips up today – metaphorically speaking of course.  

Murray is a very good player, fourth in the World, but Nadal is truly a great. However he can be beaten.

Murray has coped admirably with the expectation that surrounds his every appearance on a Wimbledon court. He has played good focused tennis and there have been no alarms, as he has progressed with a methodical efficiency towards this semi-final showdown.

If he is to win, he will have to be at the absolute top of his game throughout the match, some how forcing Nadal to play somewhat below his best.

But there is definitely something about Murray, this year, that suggests to me he is mentally stronger than in the past. I think he believes he can win today and go on to take the tournament. That has not always appeared to be the case. I’ve got a genuine feeling that it could be his year. If not now, probably never.

Throughout the tournament, tepid Tim Henman, a good player but low on charisma (World number 11, at his peak, and never a grand slam winner) who for so long carried, without any real conviction, the unrealistic Wimbledon hopes of a nation, has been campaigning from the commentary box to hang on to ‘his Hill’ in the face of mounting, ‘Murray Mound’, opposition.

If Andy takes the title on Sunday, I think he can definitely stake claim to being king of this tennis castle once and for all, and Tim will have to settle for being the ‘dirty rascal’!

So, Sharapova to win the Ladies’, Murray to beat Djokovic (methinks a five setter) in the Men’s!

How right, or wrong, will I be?             




2 responses

2 07 2011

Classic stuff Phil – how mwny blisters? Pity your forecast for Wimbledon didnt materialise, but Andy did as well as he could. Watched it while getting the treatment!!! Cheers, G.

2 07 2011

Been to Oxford again today – the IKEA mission now successfully completed!
Not doing so well on the Wimbledon predictions – just listened to the ladies’ final on the way back.
I think Murray played as well as I’ve seen him. He was beaten by an outstanding talent. We have to accept Murray is 4th best in the World, in an exceptionally strong era, which is itself a very good achievement.
I don’t think I’d like to predict the men’s final – too close to call. Could be a classic!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: