Well, That Was... Unexpected

It's rare that I get to watch tennis anymore, now that I've given up my subscriptions to traditional media via cable and television. But, there is a big-screen television at work that is normally tuned to the sort of mindless rubbish that passes for entertainment in the world today- football, baseball, CNBC, Bloomberg, that sort of thing.

Today, however, was a real treat. Someone sensible had finally turned the telly to something truly civilised- the first round of the championships at Wimbledon. And, my word, what a show.

First we were treated to Roger Federer (a.k.a. "the Greatest Of All Time", a.k.a. simply "The Man") showing us all how it's done on a true grass court. The Man didn't even look the least bit bothered, stomping all over his opponent in a little over an hour. That is the kind of tennis that I have really missed from the man that I have come to revere as an exemplar of everything great about the sport of tennis- stylish, effortless, clinical, and ruthless yet beautiful. I was watching the maestro at work, and boy was it fun.

And then, just when I thought opening day at the world's greatest tennis tournament could not get any better, this happened:
In retrospect, given the injury, these events made a certain kind of sense. But how to explainthis? How to make sense of what happened on Court No. 1 on Monday when Darcis beat the eight-time French Open champion? 
The score was 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8), 6-4, and it was punctuated by a terrific ace down the middle (his 13th of the match). 
What on earth happened? 
"Sometimes you play well and have the chance to win," Nadal said later, "and sometimes you play worse and lose. That's all. At the end, it's not a tragedy, it's the sport." 
Nadal declined to actually say he was injured, but essentially admitted he was: "Is not the right day. I tried my best out there in every moment. It was not possible for me this afternoon." 
Later, he added: "I don't want to talk about my knee this afternoon. All I want to say is congratulations to Steve Darcis. Anything I say about my knee is an excuse."
Now I will say that although I cannot stand Nadal's style of play, I have nothing but respect and admiration for his demeanour both on and off the court. He is a true gentleman and a great champion. And while I've been predicting for years (literally since Nadal was 23) that his extremely physical style of play would inevitably wear down his body past the point of recovery, I think that it is premature to write him off- the guy just won the single most physical of all of the Grand Slams, after all.

That said, the only way this could possibly have gotten any better is if Murray had lost as well. Sadly, he didn't.

And if you want a great reminder of just what a genius Federer is- well, here's one:


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