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The first 4 sets of the best of 13 set challenge were played on Tuesday 17th May.
For those who were unable to be present but had access to the internet, there was streaming of this being broadcast at the highest level currently obtainable. It was just as well it was good because the tennis being seen was of a standard rarely achieved by the players of the Challenge at such an early stage of the proceedings.
It is probably fair to say up and including the 2012 challenge held Rob Fahey had always been the favourite to retain his title but in 2014, Rob Fahey no longer the number 1 ranked player was up against Camden Riviere the now number 1 in the world and for the first time found himself as the underdog. As we now all know Rob Fahey saw off Camden Riviere’s challenge winning 7 sets to 3.
What was going to happen at Newport?
What was seen by those present and those who were watching the streaming was a masterclass in retrieving by Camden Riviere. “Surely he wouldn’t get that shot back”? Not only did Camden Riviere get it back but Rob Fahey found himself under pressure to do anything but return the shot, for Camden Riviere to refocus on his positioning on the court and wait for Rob Fahey’s response.
The games were tantalising in the way the two players were not only moving themselves but manoeuvring each other to a position of advantage. The first three sets went to Camden Riviere 6/4 6/3 6/2, but towards the end of the third set Rob Fahey was beginning to find his touch and length of shot, so the obvious question was whether he would retain his unbeaten statistic of always having won the 4th set of a challenge!
Rob Fahey did win the 4th set 6/4 so the match tonight, Thursday, sees the Champion trailing 3/1 and we will see whether Camden Riviere can continue his amazing focus and play and extend his lead over Rob Fahey or whether the champion will come back to the court with a new game plan. That is what the challenge format is all about and in the words of Rob Fahey this is what he has said about a challenge format match:
“The physical, mental, emotional, tactical and tennis demands of a best of 13 set match are unlike any other format tennis players compete in. There are no “secret weapons”, no “brilliant night out” that will get you through a best of 13. Whereas you might surprise someone with something on the night of the British Open final, by day 2 of a World Championship match that “weapon” has been worked on and solved, that “brilliance” has faded and you are back to the drawing board. Best of 13 is a true test of tennis, if you have any weakness – it will be found, if you like to play to a strength – it will be taken away from you, it comes down to who has the best all-around game, the strongest body, the strongest mind, the biggest will to win and the nerve to stick with it all. At 2 sets all in a best of 5 matches there are still some questions to be answered and the natural ebbs and flows of a match can decide the outcome. At 6 sets all, in the best of 13 sets, there is nothing left unanswered. It is 2 players looking at each other, looking inside themselves and deciding who has the heart to win from here. There is nothing in Tennis that can compare to this!”