Monday, July 07, 2008
The Golden Age of Men's Tennis
....is not the 1960s, the 70s or the 80s.
I thought that I'd seen all there was to see in football before this year's European Championships. And I thought I'd seen all there was to see in tennis too, until yesterday's extraordinary Wimbledon men's final. Titantic is not the word. Nearly five hours of superlative tennis, with both men showing extraordinary mental strength. But it wasn't just the quality of tennis which made yesterday's match so special. It was the great sportmanship of the two finalists.
Throughout the match there was no screaming at umpires or shouting of obscenities. There was no big-headed crowing from Nadal after he eventually prevailed; instead he redefined the meaning of the word 'magnaminous'. "He (Federer) is still the best player in history. Roger is always fighting. He's still the number one, still the best, still five times champion here- I've just won one". I don't know about you, but Nadal's speech was the most graceful winning speech I've ever heard in my life. Federer for his part, paid generous tribute to his conqueror, like the true gent he is.
How different Federer and Nadal are from the petulant, spoiled-brat tennis stars of the 1970s and 80s. The on-court, bad sport antics of the likes of Nastase, Connors, McEnroe and that scowling sourpuss Ivan Lendl might seem humorous now- but they weren't very funny at the time. The golden age of so many things might be in the 70s- but with Nadal and Federer at the helm, the golden age of men's tennis is most definitely today.