Photo by Beth Wilson

Photo by Beth Wilson

I really don’t know how to describe my tennis day, so I’ll start with the super boring non-tennis stuff and hope I figure out a way.

I slept a blissful 9 hours. Got up, called about the DC tickets and the guy said there would be a lady in the lobby in an hour. So, I ate a huge breakfast and then sat down for a minute…and fell asleep again. D’oh! Went downstairs…no lady. Called, guy said someone would be there soon, they were having troubles, but that the bus left at 2 if I wanted to go out a bit – just be sure to be back before then. So, I walked across the street, passed a garbage dump (oh, that explains the smell) and through a car park (on the way back, there was a guy peeing in it – more smell) and then to the beach. The beach isn’t too pretty right here, but it’s still nicer than any Texas gulf beach I’ve seen. They were doing a lot of work on stuff in the area – which makes sense with it being the off-season. I just sat awhile and enjoyed the sound of the waves. Walked back and…got my tickets! Yay!

I go back downstairs at 1:55 and there’s no bus outside. Finally see one around the corner, but the door is closed and no one’s in it. Go back in and ask the lady and she says they are running late. I ask about tomorrow and Sunday and she says to be there at 12:30 tomorrow and 10:15am on Sunday. Okay. Go back outside because it’s cooler and eventually, we are told to get on the bus. Then things get confusing. There’s a lot of discussion in Spanish and Czech and I don’t understand a word. Finally, a bunch of people yell out “Vamos Campeones!” and get off the bus and go to a second one that’s pulled up. The heck? Turns out, the bus was just declared the Czech bus and I got a lovely instructional tour of the city on the way to the tournament in Czech. Well, okay.

We get there and I have to take a few pictures before going inside. I mean, the place is so cool and I love the big tower that held the Olympic flame in 1992. Then, I went in, bought a few goodies and found my seats after a bit of confusion. The seat numbering is totally different from anything I’ve encountered. I don’t know if it’s a Spanish thing or what, but each section number is divided in half and then the odd numbered seats are in one half and the even in another. The seats aren’t bad at all – pretty good for being close, but not great for photo taking. I’m on the same side as the team and the chair umpire is blocking most of my few of the far end. Oh well, a set or two in and I didn’t care!

They had a little ceremony at first – introduced the officials, team captains and teams. The roar that Rafa got was amazing. They then played each team’s national anthem. (Sadly, their backs were to me this whole time, so I figure the same will be true of any trophy ceremony.) Then, everyone cleared the court except the team captains and the players who were playing first. Rafa looked nervous and that had me a bit worried. And, at first, his game had me a bit worried too. He still seemed tentative and like he was over-thinking, but slowly that started changing. It was like he had a very heavy and difficult to lift light-switch in his head. It took a while to get it into the on position, but once there, it was on, baby! The guys on the bench looked calm and cool – like they just knew this was going to happen. They didn’t cheer or yell at him oodles, but then he didn’t really need it. He was pumping himself up (*ahem*) and doing a damn fine job if it. It was amazing to see how much this match meant to him. You could almost feel the relief flowing out of him as that light-switch went on and he started rolling. Towards the end, he was doing his usual being pissy with himself for missing shots…when he was way ahead. A very different and fun to see pissy than the slightly desperate one we’ve been seeing lately. I was sooooo happy to see it back. He celebrated the win like it had been a tough 5 setter that he barely squeaked through. It was great to see him happy and high-fiving his teammates.

I don’t know what to say about the Ferrer match – except to say that he tried to kill me, Rafa and a huge chunk of Spain. I thought he was through, completely through. And then Stepanek’s evil drop shots stopped working for him and Daveeeeed stepped things up. Little did I know, the roller-coaster was just starting. He kept getting behind and fighting back only to lose his lead again. Every service game was like slow torture. I was going crazy.

I have to stop and explain something here: I don’t yell, wave flags or jump up and down during tennis matches. I’ve often wished I was the kind of person who did that, but I’m not. Well, I did’t wave anything and I still don’t jump, but I yelled….and I fist pumped…and I yelled some more….and I bruised my thigh from hitting it so often. And if you think I was in overdrive? Oh dear. Rafa. If Rafa has kids that go into sports, I fear for them, their teammates, opponents and parents of both sides. He yelled, he gesticulated, he told the other guys on the bench exactly what Ferrer was doing wrong, he chewed on his shirt and his fingers, he jumped up on his chair, he hit the board that separates them from the court and he kicked it a few times too. I coudn’t decide what was more exhausting – watching him cheer or watching Ferrer play.

Anyway, I feel so bad about writing Ferrer off in my mind after those first sets. He gave that match all he had and then some. And then he gave some more. I couldn’t see his “fall to the ground” at the end, but love how, as soon as he shook the proper hands, he ran over to his teammates. He was happy he hadn’t let them down and they were so happy to see him pull that through. An amazing show of team spirit in an individual sport. God, I love Davis Cup.

It’s 2am and I’m still copying pictures from the flash cards to my computer, so I doubt I’ll get any teaser photos up for you today. Perhaps after the presumably shorter day tomorrow.

56 Responses

  1. Emma H says:

    Miri, that sounds awesome. I’m delighted that you got to be there to see it.
    I almost died from excitement just watching it on TV, must have been unbelievable in person!
    Love Rafa, love Ferru, love clay, and love Davis Cup!

  2. Lynsey says:

    Rafa had me in a bundle of nerves today and I was afraid I was going to have to waste all my cheering power on him and wouldn’t have any left for Ferru, but I didn’t have to, and he was incredible. SO nice to see sparks of the old Rafa back again!

    I am so bummed I had to miss the last set of Ferru’s match. But I am so so so proud of him for never giving up and fighting and proving any doubters wrong and showing us that Costa absolutely made the right call in picking him!

    My favourite thing about Davis Cup is watching how much pride these guys have in playing for their country. Is probably why I love Spain so much and always root for them, because these four guys (and Juanqui and Tommy too!) have so much passion and heart not only for their country, but for each other, for the game, for the fans.

    Anyway, long comment is long, but I’m sure that the hair I didn’t pull out from the first set of Rafa’s match and missing the final set of David’s will be long gone with the doubles tomorrow :) Vamos España!

  3. patzin says:

    thanks as always for your sharing your travels and upcoming photos. Great day for tennis in Spain. Good for Rafa to come back to himself; and Daveeed was determined. Great wins from both.

  4. SapphireSwell says:

    MIRI!!!!!! EEEEEeeeee!!!! I couldn’t get anything done at work today. Rafa made my morning, and I went to lunch thinking that Daveeed would sweep Radek under the rug too, but that was clearly not the case when I got back. Roller coaster is right. I was really, really down after the second set, but Ferru dug himself out of that hole. Amazing.

    I’m so glad to have you narrating the your trip here. It’s truly amazing to hear your experience.

    I know everyone’s dying to see your pictures from today, but get plenty of rest tonight for the hottt duo tomorrow :D I’m sure there will be more EEeeeeee’s then.

    Until your next, highly anticipated post, have fun and keep some Aspirin in your bag to keep the heart attacks at bay.

  5. yoni says:

    So happy that you are experiencing this. It is unbelievable to watch on TV, I would have been a mess in person watching Ferrer. Once it clicked for Rafa, it was pure joy to watch him make his shots and act more like the Rafa we all love. Ferrer, what can I say, he had unbelievable heart and spirit to get through that match. I love the ARMADA! OLE!

  6. miri says:

    I wrote this super quick and left out many details. I’ll add little things as I remember them.

    New routine for Rafa (well, I saw him do it at least twice while cheering): stand up, pull his shorts up at the waist, pull them down at the butt, then stick his hands in his pockets to try and hide that he’s adjusting things up front. Yes, I felt like a perve both times I noticed this!

    At one point on a changeover in Daveeed’s match, Roig and Rafa are standing facing the crowd and Roig leans over, grabs Rafa’s shoulder and then points to someone in the box seats. They yell back and forth for a bit then smile for a photo. Then Rafa checks to make sure his pants are done up. :D

    @AnaTennisGirl just reminded me of this on twitter: When Ferrer left for a potty break after the third set. Rafa got up and left too. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that yelling/cheering fest.

    Fernando’s hair looked like it was wet after he came back out during Ferrer’s match…did he shower with Rafa? ;)

    Feli needs to learn to pull his pants up before crouching down next to the board that separates them from the court. In case you want to know: white Calvin Kleins with a black waist-band and his back was taped…just to watch tennis. That can’t be good, right?

    Rafa and Feli would sometimes stand up prematurely mid-point and then looking like little kids caught doing something wrong, would crouch down until the point was over.

    Ferrer wasn’t chewing towels as often as he usually does. This made me sad.

    The Czech fans were loud. They came armed with horns, drums and noisemakers. They seemed louder to me than the Spanish fans, but then I was sitting in front of a ton of them with super loud horns that they blew non-stop.

    You only get one ticket for the three days! They just punch each day at the gate. I’m so paranoid about loosing that puppy.

    At first, I was a little peeved that Nando didn’t seem to be helping out in the cheering. He was sitting back with his arms on the backs of the chairs and I kept imagining him thinking, “See, Costa? Don’t play me, this is what you get.” But he did eventually start cheering. Never as much as Feli and def not as much as Rafa, but perhaps he’s just not a cheering kind of guy.

    Gah. I’m never going to get to sleep!

    • sunset says:

      Thanks for sharing all the juicy little details. It is great to see Rafa being so passionate. Check back on the photos from the semifinal–he did not look nearly as lively or happy in the role of an onlooker/outsider. He needs this, and many many more matches, to feed on, to ‘keep the flame burning’.

      And truly incredible comeback from Ferrer. What a display of strong character. Congrats to both of them, they must be really proud of themselves right now.

    • Emma says:

      Thanks Miri for the details!
      I can only imagine Rafa looking absolutely edible again with his intense and passionate cheering and he must look so adorable when he was so engaged and involved in David’s match. I am sure he wished he could get on court and show David personally rather than shout from the stands!
      “He yelled, he gesticulated, he told the other guys on the bench exactly what Ferrer was doing wrong, he chewed on his shirt and his fingers, he jumped up on his chair, he hit the board that separates them from the court and he kicked it a few times too”
      I have said it gazillion of times – I love how intense he is!! This would be such a joy to watch!

    • mary says:

      Thanks for your description. It helps us feel we are there in the flesh.
      I saw Ferrers match from the 3rd set onwards & I was astounded at his gutsy determination. I’m glad I didn’t watch the first 2 sets. I would have been hospitalised otherwise. One more rubber & the cup is theirs. I think they will do it too!

      “If Rafa has kids that go into sports, I fear for them, their teammates, opponents and parents of both sides”.
      I saw Rafa jumping & shouting & double fisting for Ferrer & I have to agree with you. Parents would be sitting on the other side of the field. He reminds me of my brother when I’d go to football matches with him. I didn’t know where to hide & was forever finding excuses to try and put some distance between him & myself. People sitting around us usually dissappeared & didn’t return!

      And Rafa what a way to win your 400th game!!!! What style & finesse!! Watch out tennis world our matador is back!!!!!!!!!! :-)

    • CC says:

      “…stand up, pull his shorts up at the waist, pull them down at the butt, then stick his hands in his pockets to try and hide that he’s adjusting things up front.”

      lol!!! Such typical manly I’m-really-into-this-sports-thing-that-I’m-watching-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself behaviour. I do after all have a sports crazy dad and two sports crazy brothers. ;)

    • killian says:

      Mireeeeeeeeeh! Thanks for all the fabulous, juicy details. Reading your experiences makes this all ever MORE exciting. If that were possible. Hope you’ve gotten some sleep, and I can’t wit to see your pics.
      Muchisimas Gracias.

    • aRafaelite says:

      *Picks self up off floor with little birdies tweeting round head* sorry – I didn’t catch anything after the suggestion that Fernando and Rafa took a shower together!!! *Thud*.

      • mary says:

        It’s obvious you didn’t see the vid I posted in another thread. Now that is to die & go to heaven for. *Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm faints*

        • Carol says:

          Mary – give us the damn link, you, you….tease!!! ;-) Grrrr…

          • mary says:

            Lo siento it’s in this thread! I get hot flushes everytime I watch this & boy have I watched it a few times.

            • Ch F says:

              Great link mary, thanks! It’s not everyday that we get to see Rafa cheering his mates so passionately and it feels like we get to know him better.

  7. lurkingna says:

    Miri, thanks so much for this “double” post after the matches, you should be really tired and yet you took the time to share your experience with us. Though maybe your adrenaline was still pumping from all day’s excitement and sleeping was the last thing on your mind right then. Anyway, have a nice rest and wish you a great day tommorrow too. I hope you enjoy Barcelona… I’ve never been there yet! :(

    I couldn’t watch Rafa’s match (I was playing with my nieces), I could just follow the scores, but I’m very very happy for him.

    Big hugh to all Rafa fans out there! :)

    • lurkingna says:

      And very happy for David too! he really is a fighter!

    • miri says:

      Yeah, I was still awake at 6am. Couldn’t sleep at all. Had to get up at 10 to get breakfast and am now about to get ready for our tour of the stadium. I wonder if it will be in Czech too?

  8. Kate says:

    I agree everyone, if they can, should experience Davis Cup, there is nothing quite like it. I was fortunate to be a part of it when the US won (sorry they beat Spain that time) but Rafa was injured and didn’t go at the last minute so i didn’t feel too bad about cheering for the US. It is also exhausting and I am soooo glad that u r enjoying yourself. I had all but written off David too, what a fight just awesome.

    • aRafaelite says:

      He (Ferrer) is amazing like that… you think it’s all over when he suddenly gets his teeth into a match and just hangs on in there like a bulldog, refusing to let go. Can’t believe I missed watching it :(

  9. xta says:

    thanks, as always, for the GREAT write-up…it’s as close to being there as words (and photos) can get you…i am watching the re-run of rafa’s match right now…SO exciting even the second time around !!! and ferrer was AMAZING !!!
    i got so inspired by seeing the old rafa back that i went online and fulfilled a long-held wish: i booked a flight, hotel and a couple of opening day/night tickets for the australian open !!! (and some ground passes, too)…after i read your note about a 13 hour flight for the DC it thought surely i could handle a 14 hour flight for the AO…
    i know it should be hot there, but i’m bringing my “miri” sweatshirt anyway !!!

    • aRafaelite says:

      Yes! Come to Australia! There’s too many Fed fans here! Come and join the Auspaña Armada!!!

      • xta says:

        i’m arriving jan 16 !!! never been there, and cannot wait !!!

        • Phyzzie says:

          You will LOVE the AO. It is my most favorite tournament. The people are so friendly, the river is lovely, the weather is usually great – except last year was record breaking heat. Walking up to Rod Laver stadium will give you chills. And being out around the outer courts is great fun although a bit crowded. Try to stay away from the Serbs… love them dearly, but, boy, are they loud!! Try to get around the city and do a tour or just walk. Melbourne is lovely – hope you get to Sydney for a bit as well. LOVE AUSTRALIA !!!!

          • xta says:

            thanks — any recommendations are welcome…i’m planning on staying through the 26th (rafa’s quarters)…leaving for home on the 27th…catching the semis and finals on the big screen at home !!!
            miri’s reporting just has me so clearly seeing what it is to be in a big crowd rooting for rafa…can’t wait…

            • mary says:

              hopefully some of us will meet up, unfortunately I won’t be there till the 27th as work commitments prevent me being there sooner.
              I believe Rafa will be back to his best, he’s there now, well on clay anyways!!! I can’t wait. I use to work in Melbourne as I am from Geelong (best Aussie rules team ever to exist). So I’ll feel right at home, except I havent been there for about 17 years.

  10. Nana says:

    Miri, a billion thanks for sharing this. It’s the only way we can “witness” Rafa’s passion when all we can do is sit in front of the TV.

    I’m so happy for Rafa and the Spanish team that I feel really energised today after a very nice sleep. Rafa is beyond words and the team spirit is amazing.

    BTW, unfortunately I couldn’t really “get” the Spanish cheers as the Czech drums dominated the breaks… all in all, I just I were there in person!

    I’m sure the next 2 days will be more awesome!

  11. Atch2 says:

    Miri, luv the write-up. LOL, u caught on the Czech bus, sightseeing.

    The atmosphere looked and sounded amazing on TV. It was have been like a festival for your ears and eyes. Did you hear any swearing or Vamoses from Rafa?

    It’s funny to me that Rafa is so loud and passionate when cheering bec his Dad and Uncle Toni are quite calm and poker faced, although Uncle Toni is very animated at these matches.

    Rafa’s parents and Maribel were sitting behind the Team’s seats, on your side. Did u see them?

    Great description of Rafa cheering. I think if Rafa gets more animated they may have to tie him to his chair.

    Shame you can’t name the brand of briefs Rafa wears.

    Looking forward to your photos. Esp shirt changes and roaring Rafa.

    • miri says:

      I couldn’t hear much coming from the players because of the noise in the stadium.

      The people behind the players: no. I couldn’t tell who any of them were as I was behind them.

      • CC says:

        At one point, when Daviiid won a really important punto, there was a great big “VAMOS!!!” shouted out from the bench and the commentator on Sky said “Well, I believe that vamos came from Rafa…” Heh. :)

        • An says:

          Could verry well be!!!

          I almost enjoyed seeing him cheer more then the match itself.
          It was a joy to watch to see him so passionate, bouncing up and down typical Rafa,i,can’t,sit,still,for,more,then,10,seconds,when,i’m,so,pumped,up,behaviour! Loved it! You description off it is so nice Miri! ( BTW, congrats and have a nice day!! )

  12. Atch2 says:

    Luved Rafa’s hi-5ing and Daveed’s group hugs at the end of their matches.

  13. sia says:

    Oh miri,
    your enthusiasm and joy at being there, in Barcelona, just exudes from your posts. It really is the best part.
    What a happy day watching Rafa come into his own … he wasn’t kidding when he said he was “Ready”.
    Have an especially happy day tomorrow …you know why … maybe Spain will finish the job and that can be your present. So far you have brought nothing BUT good luck!! Hope you get some sleep tonight. Vamos!!

  14. Priyooo says:

    It’s amazing that you got all the little details . Thanks for keeping us updated on the things we cant see on tv .

    vamos armada !

  15. CC says:

    Thanks for your story, miri! I so wish I could be there, the atmosfera seemed to be fantastic.

    I taped the Ferrer game last night and watched it when I got home from dinner. Sadly the tape wasn’t long enough to fit the whole game… :(

    Anyway, vamos Daviiid!!!

    And I must say, seeing Rafa cheering was something else. It cracked me up every time they zoomed in on him. At one point he had been clapping so much that he had to blow on his hands. :D

    • Nic says:

      Hahahaha that just made me LOL!

    • mary says:

      Yeah I saw that bit. He really gets carried away. Just like me when I watch my fav sporting team. My son usually pleads with me to calm down, or he makes the excuse that he would like to see the game in peace. lol!!!

  16. mary says:

    Maybe my theory about Rafa putting all his effort into the DC & not the WTF, was correcto!!! As he sure has come into his own. He was phenomenal, winning 12-13 games in a row. Berdych wasn’t playing bad, but he had no answer for Rafa’s relentless onslaught. I’m soooooo elated I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I have no idea what I’m gonna do!!! Saving it up for AO. I’m sure I’ll get arrested!!! ;)

  17. miri says:

    I realized I talked about Rafa way too much and didn’t really give Ferrer his due. He looked so totally lost at the beginning and I kept thinking, he hasn’t had his best year, hasn’t played in a good bit and went out of his last tourny with an injury, was this the right choice? Again, sorry Daveeeeed. I’ve admired your fight and willingness to stay out there before and I shouldn’t have forgotten that.

    Stepanek was so on at first. He can do amazing things with a tennis ball and everything was going right for him. I must say, I’d never noticed how easy his strokes look – he doesn’t look like he’s hitting hard or with much effort, and yet the balls whiz by. That must have added to Ferrer’s frustration.

    It was great watching him work himself into the match. I never felt he was 100% there, but he managed anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him fist pump that much and he kept looking to the bench while doing so – feeding off all the energy that was being given to him. Again, it was just an amazing evening.

    • mary says:

      And you were there to witness it all. You deserve it!
      Yep I’m officially a Ferrer lover as well now. He’s small in stature huge in heart!!

    • dutchgirl says:

      I didn’t see the entire match, but what I saw, made me admire Ferrer as well. To come back from 2 sets down, I didn’t think he could pull it off either, and in my head he’d already lost this match.
      I was already thinking: well, that means that the 1st day ends 1-1, and there will be more pressure on Rafa for Sunday (I’m not so sure about the doubles match today)…
      Luckily I was wrong. Great fighting spirit! And good to hear you enjoyed it so much that it made you yell and jump.
      I hope the rest of the matches will be as exciting as these 2!

  18. mary says:

    Oh I just found this on utube. Thanks vamosrafanadal channel. It shows how animated our Rafa was during Ferrers game. I certainly would have handed him a chill pill(me, I would’ve burnt some energy from him). ;-)
    And at the end of the vid,”fuck me dead”, I almost wet myself. *Gonna be dreaming tonight, faints*

    • dutchgirl says:

      Thanks for this link, Mary, it’s great stuff to watch. My favourite image of a cheering Rafa wasn’t in it though – it was when he was really telling the people behind him (don’t know what he said, but it looked intense, and it looked sort of like a lecture, lol).

    • aRafaelite says:

      He he *rubs hands with glee* – that’s EXACTLY how I am when I’m watching Rafa’s matches!!! I’ve been worried about how I’m going to tone down my reactions at the AO… but after watching this… no worries!!!

      • mary says:

        Oh siento, you have seen it. I’m in heaven, soooooo delicious. He should play with his shirt off. *Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm, feeling week in the knees right now, faints*

    • Atch2 says:

      Man this is one of the best vids of Rafa. I’m seeing a side to him I’ve never seen before. Scary and funny at the same time.

      And that 6-pack. What can I say ….

    • CC says:

      Well, VAMOS me from BEHIND, Rafa! That’s like the hottest shirtless strut I have EVAH seen… Thanks, mary!


    • Nic says:

      Hahahaha I couldn’t stop laughing at how intense Rafa was ALL THE TIME! too funny. I think at some points he started giving himself a headache hahaha. So adorbs omg. Love the shirtless strut too. He got so fired up watchin daveed that he had to take it off later hehe. Possibly headed to a cold shower next?! Oh bestill my heart. I love fiery Rafa!! It’s been a while baby, oh how I’ve missed you!

  19. faeaki7 says:

    Oh you describe everything excatly Miri, I too was really doubtful for Ferrer, no match practice v. an inform Stepanek, he beat Andy Murray last month didn’t he? so I wasn’ t at all optimistic, but what a fighter, he showed true grit and determination to win this match, I left after Rafa’s awsome performance to go to an evening class and couldn’t believe it when I returned to find both David and Radek battleling it out in the 5th, it was brilliant by David and watching Rafa was funny too, he was having kittens in the stands, so intense!
    Talking of Rafa, he finally found his groove today and showed them how clay court tennis is done! the first set was scary but after that there was no stopping him, and the way he handed that point to Berdych in the 2nd set, Rafa is so classy too! I haven’t enjoyed watching him play so much in ages, this was a fantastic, so happy for him and to serve Berdych a bagel too! He won’t be getting ahead of himself always on guard is Rafa and depending on todays outcome he may have a tough task too against Stepanek! This must have been awsome to watch live, thanx for the great report as always!!!

  20. Atch2 says:

    Presser vid with Rafa & Berdy:

    Presser vid with Ferrer & Step:

  21. Carol says:

    Well, guys, Ferru does mean “iron” in Valencian dialect!

    Oh, and BTW, sorry for swearing at you David-Sr-sexy-green-eyes!

  22. Atch2 says:

    Can’t wait 2 c cheerleader Rafa at the doubles match.

  23. glors27 says:

    Miri, again a wonderful post!! I’m feeling I’m there while reading!
    Enjoy, and then tell us all about it!!! I’m watching the matches on the davis cup site – I bought the live weekend ticket – I love it!! they show all the stuff you never see on commercial tv with commercials, etc.
    Now the doubles will be starting soon and they had their camara in the locker room, etc… it’s great the feel so intimate with them!! this is the first time I buy one these internet feeds and I love it!! will be watching out for you now that we know where you are seated.
    Luck to our boys today and let’s see how pumped up Rafa gets today!
    love you miri – great photos too!!

    • mary says:

      Oh yeah the one I bought that I can’t see as there is something wrong with my pc I think. bugger!!

  24. Phyzzie says:

    Thanks Miri for the great posts. You always have wonderful insight.