Wimbledon is my favorite tennis event of the year. In fact it is in my top 2 sporting events of the year (notwithstanding the years which host the FIFA world cup, the Euro Championships and the ICC Cricket World Cup) :D. There is something so serene about the green and white, which makes the sporting spectacle look extremely surreal. Minimalism and Royalty are Wimbledon’s greatest strengths and that’s exactly what I love and adore. The strawberries and the cream notwithstanding, it is the gloomy weather, the buzz in the center court during a match and the history behind the “Graveyard of Champions” is what fascinates me and will continue to do so for some time to come.
My Wimbledon this year ended in Round 2 when a Troll did the unthinkable and unwittingly booted the humble Rafael Nadal out of the championship. That the troll went out in the very next round added salt to my wounds [that and the not-so-clever Facebook post where I challenged the Troll to stop Federer from the winning the title 😦 ]. Things went from bad to worse as the semi-final turned Topsy-turvy and ended very very fast with a silken warrior taking out the man in form, the Favorite. The least I could expect from this Wimbledon was to see the “silken warrior” go out in the semi-finals and not make it to the finals where his strength seems to double, especially when he is not playing a certain Spaniard. Well, that didn’t happen. And today, the “Chyna” of women’s tennis won her fifth Wimbledon singles title. There is nothing I hate more in tennis than seeing “her” win any title for that matter, as I feel that she has done Women’s Tennis a great disservice by replacing the grace, elegance of Steffi Graf with muscle, abuse of referees and unbelievable shot making ability [which even put Andy Roddick to shame when he was a junior]. To me, all this points to certain victory for a certain individual tomorrow which should subject me to prolonged abuse for the coming weeks from my “mad” colleagues in office [which is where I spend most of my time].
Sunday’s final throws up intriguing possibilities. Sir Roger Federer (I have a feeling that he will be knighted soon for his contribution to tennis) has the opportunity to gun for Pistol Pete’s magnificent 7 and also reclaim his long lost world no.1 ranking. Andy Murray, a Scot and no English by the way, ranked Britain’s no.1 ever since Tim Henman stopped serving and volleying, has the opportunity to become a sizable part of Britain’s appalling sporting history. Britain has waited 75 years to see another of their kin win their most coveted Tennis title and Andy Murray’s reaching the finals has given rise to fervent hope of the drought finally ending. The situation is very similar to the opening scene from the Amir Khan’s cult movie “Lagaan” where the villagers are desperately waiting for rain and then the clouds finally arrive [we all know how that ended :)].
I “hate” Federer. Well, “hate” is a strong word, probably “loathe” should be more appropriate here, or probably not. Loathe, hate, doesn’t matter. I don’t LIKE Federer. I started not liking him ever since he started winning. Since that round of 16 match in 2001 when he beat my all-time-favorite Sampras in 5 heart-breaking sets, I have taken a strong dislike towards Federer. I never liked his ponytail, his hairy hands, his uncanny ability to serve an ace when in trouble, his one-handed backhand and the RF printed on his shoes. Although, I like his crying during a pathetic loss and the adorable look on his face when he knows he is going to lose the 5th set to the Spaniard and thereby the championship. Ok, I will keep Federer bashing to some other time and to another post.
There is no iota of doubt that Murray will have to play the match of his life to win tomorrow’s final. He may have already exhausted his serving luck by serving like Goran Ivanisevic in the SF match against Tsonga (my tennis crazy colleague adorably calls him “Ta-songa” 😀 and she is not on Facebook). But he needs to start well and stay focused through out. His best chance of winning the match lies in taking the match to the 5th set which is where Federer starts to get slightly edgy, very slightly though. Federer has not really had his “usual, flawless” Wimbledon performance, dropping a set against Malisse and coming back from 2-0 sets down against the Frenchman, Julien Benneteau in the 2nd round. He also looked slightly listless in the 3rd set against the Djokovic in the SF. However, the 31-year old man, when he turns it on, he really does it in some sublime manner. The almost brutal QF against the patsy Russian, Mikhail Youzhny, the 1st and 4th sets against Djokovic made for stunning display of the return of the old King, the one who could just glide through matches and slice open his opponents with utter disdain. Murray on the other hand has been very effective and has been his steady self without getting in too much trouble. His supposed “tough” matches against the other Spaniard, Ferrer and Ta-songa were grinds of the highest order, but at no-time did the match look like slipping away from his grip. He needs to keep this vice-like grip on tomorrow’s finals.
Murray was in tears once he realized of his passage to the final. He is not overtly sentimental and nor is he expressionless on the court. Tomorrow, the nation will come out and support him, although on the court, his support is definitely going to be rivaled by Federer’s support, for the Swiss is a popular man and greatly loved by all. Murray must have been dreaming, even self-obsessing about this day, ever since he picked up the racket and learnt how to play. It is time he went ahead and realized his own vision of “this” day, not for the country, not for anyone, but himself.