At the risk of sounding like a grandpa, young tennis fans don’t know how good they’ve got it.
Really, they don’t. If you’ve only been following tennis for the past decade or so, maybe you think it’s always been like this. Three or four all-time greats, battling it out in epic, high-quality matches at Grand Slam Final after Grand Slam Final.
But I remember the Lleyton Hewitt-Yevgeny Kafelnikov years of the late ‘90s and early aughts; the Marcelo Rios-Guillermo Coria (shudder) era.
Which is why I don’t ever take incredible matches like Sunday’s men’s (excuse me, gentlemen’s) singles final for granted. For five tight, thrilling sets, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer played sublime, scintillating tennis, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
First it looked like Federer had the upper hand, winning the first set. Then Djokovic, so many times in the past few years having come up short in major moments, winning the next two sets playing fantastic defensive tennis.
In the fourth, with Djokovic up 5-2, I got dressed and put my sneakers on; my best friend’s in town and we were headed to the Met (an aside: still the best museum in NYC; spent 3 hours there Sunday but easily could’ve spent 6 or 7), and I thought the great Federer was cooked.
My buddy ended up going to the museum ahead of me, because with absolutely no warning, Federer stormed back and won the last five games of the set, a gag job of Buckner-ian proportions.
“No way Djokovic can recover in the fifth,” my Mom and I agreed on the phone.
Only he did, winning a 6-4 fifth set that finished with the soon-to-be father crying hysterically, dropping down to the ground and eating a blade of Wimbledon grass.
Sensational match. Of course I was pulling big-time for Federer, my all-time favorite athlete, but I can’t be too mad he lost; he played attacking, ferocious tennis, and proved he can still hang with the big boys. And I was happy for Djokovic, who’s suffered a lot the last few years and really deserved this win.
I honestly think if he’d just held on and won 6-3 in the fourth set, it wouldn’t have been as impressive as the way he ended up winning.
Another incredible Wimbledon final, at least the fifth classic final we’ve had since 2007. We are SO, so spoiled in tennis right now; greatness is with us everywhere.
Can’t wait for the U.S. Open…
**And now, after watching fireworks this weekend, try watching fireworks in reverse. Cool, and a little trippy…
**Finally today, I didn’t blog Friday so I’m a few days late on this, but don’t want to let the passing of American legend Louis Zamperini pass by without a few words. I wrote about Louie after reading the incredible New York Times bestselling book about his life, Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken,” which I highly, highly recommend.
Zamperini was 97 when he died Thursday, and he packed so much living, and endured so much suffering, in that time. What amazed me most about his life was his complete lack of bitterness and good humor about life; a man who endured what he did as a prisoner of war still found so much good. He is a role model in every sense of the term.
Here’s a great obit of Zamperini from the L.A. Times, and below, a “CBS Sunday Morning” piece from 2012 that shows his humanity beautifully: