Two Sets To Murder*

“It’s great to see Rafa playing well again,” Mum says, sipping her glass of white wine.  We’re watching the tennis recorded earlier in the day.

Rafa is looking good: he’s just broken David Ferrer’s serve and held his first service game to love.  He’s looking fit and purposeful: bouncing around the back of the court.

“Ferrer keen to win some points, let alone games,” Tim Henman says.  Rafa is now 3 – 0 up.

“That’s what my thighs look like now,” I say, as we see a slow-motion replay of Rafa sending a blistering forehand down the line, thigh muscles bulging out of his little shorts. 

“Well why can’t you play tennis then?” Mum says.

“It’s not just about that,” I say, pulling the furry blanket around myself.

“What’s it about then?” Mum says.

“Hand eye coordination,” I say.  

“I’m playing really well at the moment,” Mum says.

Ferrer breaks Rafa’s serve and then holds his own.

The blue surface squeaks as the players move around on it.

Ferrer breaks Rafa to love.  3 – 3.

The fluffy monster sleeps on the piano stool: his tummy pressed against the radiator for warmth.

4 – 3 to Ferrer. 

“He’s playing like a little demon,” Mum says.

Rafa holds his serve.  4 – 4.  He doesn’t need to win this match: he’s already through to play Novak in tomorrow’s semi-final.  He’s looking so much better than he was in the summer: he’s regained his muscle tone, speed and energy.  He’s completely different from how he was in the summer at Wimbledon – exhausted, out of condition and out of shape.

5 – 4 to Ferrer. Then 5 – 5.

6 – 5 to Rafa.  

“Would you like a glass of wine?” Mum asks me.  

“Yes please,” I see.

Ferrer is 0 – 40 up on Rafa’s serve but Rafa saves the three break points and then he’s serving for the set.  Back to deuce.  Ferrer hits a winner but Rafa gets it back to deuce.  Ferrer breaks.  6 – 6.  Tiebreak.

“That kitten was climbing all over me in the night,” Mum says.

“He shouldn’t be in our bedroom at night,” says Dad, who has surfaced from his office in time for supper. 

6 – 2 to Ferrer in the tiebreak.  Four set points.  He takes the first set.

“Right: we can watch the rest of this after supper.  We’ve got a lovely dinner,” Mum says, turning the television off and disappearing to the kitchen.  Dad is setting the table.   Had better wrap this up.

The attached photo is Mum’s new yellow orchid.

Happy Friday everyone!
*1963.  By Ludovic Peters.  Tennis crime novel.


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