Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Monday, February 27, 2017

In a Perfect World, in Tennis!

I am a lone Rafa fan among a bunch of stupid friends who are Federer fans. Sorry for delaying this but I kept it in waiting so that I can dedicate it. This piece is for all the big Federer fans out there, especially MY GREAT, AWESOME FRIEND, PRASIDDHA who is ready to crash onto Saturn along with Cassini space orbiter if it would make her meet Roger Federer. (You win today, but one day I will win too!)

In a perfect world, in the sport of tennis, the perfect tennis rankings would feature Roger Federer at the top, followed by Rafael Nadal in the second place. The perfect grandslam final would be played between these both, with Nadal thrashing Federer on clay or a slow surface and a fierce battle ensued between them on other surfaces. And for a period of time, a record 160 weeks to be specific, this did happen in tennis. Everything was perfect, until other beauties like Novak Djokovic took over the crown. However, there is only one perfect situation and true tennis fans have missed it for a long time even with Rafa and Roger around.

And for once, just once, there came another chance. Again, everything was perfectly for the setting. In unexpected, yet delightful turn of events, the best players in the world right now, Djokovic and Andy Murray lost cheaply in early rounds in the Australian Open while Wawrinka and Dimitrov just scared the many a fan for a brief time. Thus, after six years, the result was, the perfect moment came once again. Called together by their colloquial name, 'Fedal,' they did play like true gladiators that they are but only a bit old and weary. They both knew Federer's time was up (sorry, Federer fans, sadly this is true) and this match is the last big thing that they could do together! Ah the lovely couple and their sad break up!!  Even the craziest of Nadal fan would have not worried if he lost. Because he would be losing to Roger Federer! No one cares who wins as long as they get to see them play each other in a major. And they did not disappoint. They fought and they fought bitterly. Federer the ever child he is and Nadal the ever fighter he is. They fought for the championship. No reason for Nadal fans to be upset. After all, this is just Australian Open. Not the Wimbledon nor the Roland Garros (better than the US Open though). I am sure that if Nadal continues this kind of a show, we know what birthday present he is going to give himself this year.

This would be the end. We only walk forward. No going back! 

Both were gracious. They played for the victory like they always did. They played for the tennis fan and importantly, they played for tennis, the lovely game that Sir Isaac Newton improvised sitting in the lawns of Cambridge. It could be tough to play to balance all the three. They did it because it is them, 'Fedal.' They are now not two different players. And now, there will not be one clear winner in the match. Just as Federer wonderfully said after the match, 'If tennis allows it, they both would be sharing the trophy.' And yes, they spoke wonderfully. It was as if both of them prepared for a speech together, which could be used irrespective of who won. They both carried the same grace and competitiveness right from their game into the speech. The speech was spontaneous but felt well rehearsed like the Nobel prize or the Academy award acceptance speech. Well, this match was definitely the Oscar of tennis, it is only once in a lifetime event.

If this match did not display the spirit of tennis, nothing would have. Of course, most of their encounters and many other tennis encounters did display the spirit. But they played a grandslam final like an exhibition match. It takes great sportsmanship to do so. They also perfectly understood the gravity of the situation. While they celebrated each point which they won so hard, they also knew to celebrate in the 'non hurtful' way. It is as if both of them knew the other's fanbase. They wanted to keep everyone happy, yet wholeheartedly fight for the trophy. That is the return they have given for all the love that they received. This match has taken the Federer-Nadal rivalry to another level: it paired their names. A Fedal match is now not something which tennis fans would watch to support one player. It is the whole match as a package that they would be interested in. Of course, they are never going to meet in a grand slam final again. Their (read Federer's) age will not allow them to. Their (read Nadal's) body and fitness will not allow it and their rankings definitely will not help. This is it. This is the last that we have seen them play each other in a major final and they made it a true tennis match which makes the average tennis fan go like, ' Well, that is for a lifetime!'