Showing 5 posts tagged tennis
“Golden ages” in sports are weird things. They’re usually only declared after the fact — and often well after the fact. It’s often the “too far in the forest to see the trees” syndrome mixed with a lack of historical context, so perspective is lacking until further down the line.
But that’s not the case with men’s tennis right now.
Because there are three players that are potentially the three greatest players that have ever lived, what we’re all watching now is unprecedented — and obviously the golden age of tennis.
Brian Phillips lays this out as well as I’ve seen for Grantland today. I find his comparison to The Iliad apt:
One of the great things about this era of the game, though — it goes along with the cruelty we were just talking about — is that it feels almost epic. That’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in sports, but I mean it literally here. Think about, say, The Iliad. It’s a book about combat, about wild golden armies tearing each other to shreds, but here and there in every battle there are heroes whom no one can touch. Hector and Achilles and Ajax and the other superheroes of the B.C.E. basically wade through the enemy, mowing down everything in their path. They’re not even in danger. There’s absolutely no chance that some minor Trojan is going to bring down Achilles; it’s not happening. And after hundreds of pages of this, when they finally start facing each other, you can’t freaking believe how intense the moment is, because you’ve been primed to think they’re invincible.
Isn’t that basically the state of tennis today? Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have won every major tournament but one in the last seven years.
Also insane: the fact that Andy Murray, the fourth wheel of this three-wheel car, might himself be considered one of the best players of all time as well were he not playing against Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic.
Murray’s five-set loss to Djokovic in the semifinals last weekend was itself a match for the ages. But it looks like nothing — and will be forgotten — because of the six-hour Djokovic/Nadal final.
It’s amazing that over the past few years the discussions have evolved from whether Federer is the best ever, to whether Nadal will be the best ever, to now whether Djokovic may eventually be the best ever.
These are three of the best players ever and they’ve come back-to-back-to-back.
Crazier is that Federer is 14-1 in Grand Slam finals against opponents not named Nadal.
And crazier still is that since Nadal’s first Grand Slam at the 2005 French Open, he and Federer have won 22 of 25 possible Grand Slam titles. And two of those other ones were won by Novak Djokovic, who is arguably the best player in tennis right now. (The other was a surprising win by Juan Martin del Potro in the 2009 U.S. Open over Federer — hence, the 14-1 non-Nadal record.)
What a rivalry.
Can’t quite figure out why, but I can’t stop laughing at this.