December 30, 2011 | 09:00 PM
PART II (resumes the season post-Wimbledon)
The first stops on the way to Flushing -
not ones to which the stars were rushing -
- despite -
A bonus pool for luring rankers,
Funded by the White Plains' bankers.
While Congress doddled - about defaulted -
Fish-man with our flag assaulted
First Atlanta, then LA,
Assuring him a big pay day.
A final loss to Djokovic
Did little to slow down his schtick,
He next tamed Rafa, almost Andy,
Which would in Cincy have been dandy.
Arriving next at BJK,
Mardy put 9 sets away
Toward the lucky 21
To get the Series bonus won.
With one set needed from Jo Tsonga
His shoulder stopped his going longer,
Nipped his bonus in the bud,
Left him finishing like crud,
Watching as post-season play
His Race lead seemed to chip away.
Of real suspense before the Open -
The health of those who we were hoping
Would once more the semis grace
To establish their final major place:
Last seen, Joker had retired,
Down to Andy, looking tired,
Complaining of a shoulder sore,
He left the court and played no more.
As for Rafa since being gored
On grass he'd hallowed three years fore
By the Serb whose bloody reign
Had dethroned the King of Spain,
He'd won two matches, lost two more,
One to Dodig, then three and four
To the Bloody Scot whom most deplore.
The list of top dogs who'd retired
Read like one MacBeth inspired:
Berdych, Tsonga, to name just two,
The only spared was you-know-who:
The ever present former lord -
Of winning - he seems never bored,
That's Roger, old dependable,
Written off, expendable
To those who's interests had been moved
To younger men now in the groove.
The Swiss to being fit made claim,
Ready again to stake his name
To the title he'd five times owned
But had it recently out on loan
Due to two last minute slip-ups,
In his view but minor hiccups,
Inconvenient in their timing
On match games falling, as if rhyming,
In both Oh-nine and Oh ten,
Surely it couldn't happen again?
And so commenced the early rounds,
Doubts more than replies abound,
until a day or two were played
and save for Andy none delayed
in victories from loss of sets:
to Haase down two, regrets
in store, Murray rose and shut the door
on the round of sixty four.
As week two began to sort
Who would take the final court,
With only Berdych, Monfils gone,
The field was open but odds were long
for anyone but one through four
to take a spot reserved by lore.
Twas Joker, Rafa, Rog and Andy,
Arrived unscathed by eye candy
Such as Tsonga – dismissed in three
By the Swiss, without reprieve.
Six games from Rafa A-Rod earned
Though for his speed might Isner yearn -
Too swift for him who moves like Lurch,
The Scot leapt to a semis perch
(number four on the year for him,
but drawing Rafa yet again).
For the Joker came a small surprise
His countryman Tipso did arrive
As seeming quarterfinal fodder
Who outperformed, deferring slaughter
Til the third set lost love six,
Retiring then, picked up his sticks
And went to Belgrade for R&R
Leaving Flushing to the Star.
The rest is what we all know well:
At match point down the shot from hell
Screamed crosscourt past the server, Rog,
Frozen in horror as Joker dodged
The fate it seemed was his to be
By gods and probability.
A short time later, now off the hook,
The Serb awaited the choice of book.
That would be Rafa, defending champ,
The man the Andy could not de-camp.
Four sets this time, the last not close -
This would be Andy's final dose
Of Major sorrows in oh-eleven
Dating back to post-oh-seven.
The final might have panned out bigger
Had Rafa sooner found the trigger,
Set three was too late, as four evolved,
No sooner started, than resolved,
A worse drubbing than sets one or two,
Of Joker's pain Rafa had no clue.
A mere seven games across three sets
Fell far short and left regrets,
Except in Belgrade where once more
Novak was toasted and adored.
All over Spain, que pasa asked,
Was Nadal healthy, up to task
Of winning back the Cup they lost -
to Argentines - at any cost?
This question got an answer curt
As Rafa restored himself in dirt
Casting his angry look and glance
At his opponents, the best of France,
Tsonga, Gasquet – off'd in a hurry,
Only doubles - another story -
when lefty Llodra and Jo Willy
beat Verdasco-Lopez silly.
Before the Masters, others mattered
In a season leaving tattered
Men of every rank and age
From rookies to those in later stage.
Through Asia, Basel, Paris, France,
Then O2 London, the last dance
For those still standing tall enough
After playing long and rough.
Tipsarevic in Kuala Lumpur
Began a journey toward the bar
He'd have to reach to play O2,
beat Nishikori, Baghdatis too;
fared less well in Shanghai, Japan,
(barely seemed an also ran)
but moving east he then stormed Russia,
Davydenko in Moscow - brushed off -
before a final with Viktor Troicki,
in which he finished okey-dokey.
St. Petersburg his final stand,
Bogomolov gave up his hand
And only Marin Cilic ended
A run for Janko that extended
From also-ran to wanna-be,
a rank of nine from twenty-three.
Murray's quest began in Bangkok,
Roger was the man he stalked,
after three years stuck in ranking,
unpaid by lucky stars for thanking,
A fired up Andy to the field gave lie
Then on to Tokyo and Shanghai
He went and beat up Rafa, Ferrer,
Neither looking glad to be there.
Not yet a sign of Rog or Joker,
Both stayed home to work their brokers.
Back in Europe Basel beckoned
Joker defending but Roger reckoned
The man to beat in his home town
With no Rafa or Murray around
(Both done in by Asian rigors
Seeking time to renew vigor).
Before the Parisian show to follow,
Joker's love-six third seemed hollow
In his loss to Nishikori -
Number one by thirty sushied?
Twice more would Novak appear to play
Only to vanish after a day:
At Bercy indoors he took out Viktor,
but next withdrew to rest his ticker.
In London more the same from Novak:
After a third withTomas Berdych
four games only could he gain
from David as himself he feigned;
one last gasp won him a set
from Tipso before he left the net
to end what had been all his year,
his seventy/six: a record or near.
The last man standing once again
Was you-know-who, the gentleman.
To streaks no stranger, he strung one on
From Basel to Paris and beyond,
seventeen the sum of his autumn haul,
enough to earn number three and gall
The Scot and leave him free
to dream of a time when his rise won't be
stopped by the best in history.