Tuesday, June 11, 2013
So, what did you think of this year’s Roland Garros? Surprised? OF COURSE YOU WEREN’T.
The heavy pre-tourney faves, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, won big. Sure, Rafa started off the fortnight scratchy, losing a set in each of his first two matches, before running into the world’s top baller, Novak Djokovic, and winning an insta-classic, five-set semifinal match. He was the better baller throughout the contest and almost let it slip before pulling it out late in the fifth. Once in the final, he smothered compatriot, David Ferrer, as he is wont to do on the slippery stuff.
Even less of a surprise was ReRe’s demolition of the ladies’ field. I tweeted after she was pushed to three sets by Svetlana Kuznetsova that their quarterfinal match may have been the de facto final. While Maria Sharapova was game and gave it her best in the actual final (no really, she played as well as I’ve seen her against ReRe start to finish), Sveta actually made the world’s top lady baller uncomfortable enough to pull out a set and a break in the third. But closing out the 16-time Grand Slammer is a whole other question. And that’s something few lady ballers—three in fact—have done in the past year.
It used to be that Roland Garros was where you could watch a totally unexpected, out-of-left-field baller win one of tennis’s four major tourneys. Think Iva Majoli. Or Gaston Gaudio. Clay, like a windy day, was thought of as an equalizer, where anyone could have a slip up, sometimes literally, and bite the dust. In one respect, it was exciting; but it doesn’t happen as much anymore. Blame the homogenizing of playing styles, the equipment, the balls, whatever fits your argument.
So does it make Rafa and ReRe’s wins less thrilling? If you think witnessing two living legends cement their place in the annals of tennis history is akin to watching paint dry, the hell yeah. But not me. Rafa’s 12th- major win put him past Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg. I said ROD LAVER and BJORN BORG. ReRe is two major wins from tying Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, which very well could happen by year’s end. And as they both fell to the clay after clinching match point, with a mix of exhilaration, relief and satisfaction, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it was their first time.
Because winning never gets old, even for champions.
[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]