Monday, July 09, 2007

Break Fast At Wimbledon

I’ll admit it: I love watching golf on TV. There’s something very calming and therapeutic about it. Add the fact that this is the time of year when the mercury reads 98 degrees regularly and the humidity approaches sauna levels, and you can imagine that I’m driven inside from my yard work to avoid another heat stroke and cool down with m’boy Tiger to watch him almost not choke again. (Those of you sweltering in the southwest, fuck off. It’s so not a dry heat here.)

But what I love even more than watching golf on TV on the weekends is watching the U.S. Open and, 2 weeks or so before, Wimbledon.

I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. CST, since The Men’s Final started at around 8. (Didn’t need it; woke up at 6:45 for whatever reason.) Watched the entire first set. Missed much of the 2nd. (Picking tomatoes; they’re the best I’ve ever grown to date, by the way.) And watched every point thereafter.

I’ve gotta say that that’s the best tennis match I’ve ever seen. And I’ve watched a lot of tennis over the years. I have memories, some vivid, some not so much, of McEnroe (anger management when anger management wasn’t cool), Borg (he was there to witness in person someone tie his own Wimbledon record, presumably not drunk [we’re pulling for ya, BB!]), Connors (everybody’s favorite southpaw with a serve that could shuck corn), Becker (everybody’s favorite lovable non-Nazi), Lendl (Belgium is real!?), Agassi (all that wonderful 80’s hair – where did it all go!?), Sampras (everybody’s favorite very hairy guy with a serve that could toast bangs). The list goes on.

I’ve tried to follow Andy Roddick’s career, and I invariably cheer for him. But you’re gonna have to bring more to the tennis table than a 200 mile-an-hour serve and a Mandy Moore breakup. Gasquet owned your ass, and you were, what was it, 12 points from beating him to face Roger? Man. Phil Mickelson called. He wants his MO back.

It was clearly Roger Federer’s to lose, at which he was succeeding admirably. He couldn’t hold his serve. His winners got jammed back into his body like they were lobs. And his backhand, almost as feared as his forehand, kept missing the mark.

He doesn’t trust the new “eye in the sky” thingie that the U.S. Open introduced last year (I think) which Wimbledon used this year, where a player gets 3 challenges per set and 1 per tie breaker. Apparently it’s right 90% of the time, which means it’s wrong 10% of the time, to a +/- of 3 millimeters.

It happened in the 5th set. He started losing his cool. Roger Federer doesn’t play 5 sets. And he doesn’t lose his cool. He simply doesn’t. He doesn’t make much noise at all during a match. The last time Roger Federer lost his cool and played 5 sets, America was still a representative democracy, and damn proud of it.

Well, he’d had it. Frustrated with the technology almost as much as he was with his own game, he blew his stack, got pissed off, and screamed the primal scream residing deep within every athlete after bashing one perfectly down the line. Nadal didn’t have a chance after that.

Federer channeled his anger at himself into the last 4 games of the 5th set, ultimately breaking Nadal’s serve for the win.

The best tennis match I’ve ever seen.

Also, John McEnroe is a great commentator precisely because he’s unapologetic, direct, honest, and because he’s right even more than the “eye in the sky” thingie is. I love it. Now all I have to do is wait a few weeks and catch up with m’boys (and m’ladies!) in New York. It’s tennis-rific!