More balls please…
In January, after the Australian Open had concluded, I made a few predictions on who would feature in the men’s finals of the other three Grand Slams.
I got the French Open wrong. But then Ferrero wasn’t fit, and for sure, I would have picked Coria in his place if I had known that. Nalbandian did make it to the semis. Gaudio was a big big surprise though. A pure one-off. The French Open always throws up these one-off’s. I remember Carlos Gomez coming out of nowhere to beat Agassi in 1990, and later, Iva Majoli beating Hingis at her diva-ish best, Michael Chang in ’89, Thomas Muster in the 90s (though that was not unexpected), Sergi Bruguera, Albert Costa in 2002, and God knows how many more – the French Open is God’s gift to the underdog.
Now, to Wimbledon. I predicted a Federer-Roddick bust-up. And so it has proven to be. Thank you. Thank you. While I can’t watch it live over here, I hope the encounter lives up to the expectations. Federer seems to have reached another plane altogether. The few snippets I have caught of him in action over the last few months, he seems to have verily become a yogi-transcended the game, the spectators, and his opponent, and what’s more, I think he knows it too. If you want to convince someone to take up tennis, persuade him once, just once, to watch Federer in action. And you have in your hands, an addict.
But I like Roddick too. While he has not the gifts of Federer, he makes up for that with a crunching forehand and serve, and an attitude that takes both victory and defeat with grace, and yet is confidence personified at all times. It will be a bust-up for sure. Still, I think Federer will win again.
The US open comes up next. I had predicted a Safin-Roddick Aceathon. Much as I am inclined to pick Federer over Safin, I think I will stick to my predictions. Assuming, of course, that Safin and Roddick stay fit. Personally, I believe Roddick can come to dominate Rebound Ace over the next few years. It’s a surface ideally suited for his game, but you never know. Someone always finds a way through.
I had more or less given up on the women’s game. With Hingis gone, and Davenport on the wane, I thought the Clijsters-Henin-Serena Williams triumvirate would win everything under the sun for the next few years, punctured occasionally by Mauresmo maybe. Bad mistake. The Russians have arrived and how. Myskina at French was a huge huge surprise. And now, Sharapova. Are we at the cusp of a long-legged revolution? I hope so.
Now, if only dear Boris would pay his taxes, and gracefully settle down in a farm. I grew up watching Becker dive around the lawns of Wimbledon, a character in a time the game sorely needed characters. I played “hand tennis” on a stage in the children’s park in the housing colony I grew up in, with a bunch of very special sports addicted friends, a Becker, an Agassi, a Llendl, an Edberg, in each of us. Every win I racked up on that 25 feet*14 feet stage was one more ATP point for Becker. I played as much for him, as I did for myself. And today…Nothing is more distressing, I tell you, than to watch your childhoold idol, and your very first sporting idol at that, make a fool of himself.
The game is on. More balls please.