Just when it seemed the plotlines for us tennis fans can’t get any better, they do.
First we got the dominance of Roger Federer at the start of the 2000s, and for four years there was no one on the planet who could touch him, except for this upstart Spanish kid on clay named Rafael Nadal.
Then for a few years it was Federer vs. Nadal, the greatest rivalry in individual sport for a little while and a pair that played the best match the sport has ever seen (see 2008 Wimbledon final).
Then in 2009 Nadal ascended to the top and it looked like he would reign for a while, clearly better than Federer and Novak Djokovic, who looked destined to be the Shemp in this Three Stooges play for his whole career.
Only last year and through the start of this one, Djokovic flipped the script, dominating Federer and Nadal and winning the last three Grand Slam tournaments. Suddenly, it was the era of Novak.
But Monday the plot thickened again. Nadal, playing on his “home court” at the French Open, finished off a rain-delayed two-day match by beating Djokovic in four sets, winning Roland Garros for the seventh time.
And so the battle has officially been joined again. Nadal vs. Djokovic is the new Nadal vs. Federer. Rafa and Novak have played each other in the last four Slam finals, an unprecedented streak. Nadal has finally gained the upper hand back, playing grinding and yet also beautiful tennis.
For the lucky tennis fans out there, things just keep getting better and better. Can’t wait for Wimbledon in two weeks.
**This story fascinated me. A researcher from Harvard named Seth Stephens-Davidowitz wanted to see just how many votes being African-American cost Barack Obama in 2008. But instead of just going on voter surveys and polls (very few people stand up and say “Yep, I’m prejudiced, I ain’t voting for that dark fella!), he turned to Google.
Stephens-Davidowitz used a new tool called Google Insights, which tells researchers how often certain words are searched in different parts of the U.S. He typed in several racially-charged phrases (the n word, of course, and others) and saw what came up. The state with the highest racially charged search rate in the country was West Virginia. Other areas with high percentages included western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, upstate New York and southern Mississippi.
I recommend reading the short article here; not exactly shocking to find out where the racists are, but very interesting to see how these new tools can zero in how people really feel and think.
**Finally, a few words about the “Mad Men” season finale. I’ve given you all 24 hours to watch it from when it first aired, but OK, SPOILER ALERT. STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET AND PLAN TO!
Good, everyone still with me? I thought it was a terrific season of “Mad Men,” with the last three episodes before the finale being as good as any the show has ever aired.
But Sunday’s last show was just … OK. While I always enjoy seeing Pete Campbell getting punched in the face (and he got it twice in about 2 minutes, happily), I thought his storyline with Rory Gilmore (sorry, that’s who she’ll always be to me) was kind of silly and sad.
I actually liked all the focus on Megan Draper this season, really showing us what it’s like to be married to Don. And her mother cracks me up every time she’s on. But Megan was just wildly all over the emotional map Sunday night, and seeing her connive her way to the “Beauty and the Beast” part lost her sympathy points with the audience.
I loved that Peggy seems to be doing so well on her own, though it drove me crazy that I couldn’t remember where I knew her new boss from (turns out he was one of the gay neighbors on “Desperate Housewives.”)
But I just thought the show was pulling in too many directions Sunday, trying too hard to tie up things. The last scene with Don in the bar was really good; it won’t be long until a cad like him starts cheating again.
Great season overall. Can’t wait to see what Matthew Weiner has in store next. Hopefully, more ass-kickings for that jerk Pete Campbell.