Friday, July 18, 2008

Losing my religion

The 2008 Wimbledon men's final was more than tennis. It was human drama, awesome in its scope and intensity-- the kind of bittersweet story one craves for in sports. After four hours and 48 minutes of stunning play and frayed nerves, Rafael Nadal inched ahead to defeat five-time champion Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7. The final moment of that match was nebulous. Nadal's unbridled ecstasy. Federer's look of heartbreaking loss. The crowd rippled with varying degrees of happiness and disappointment. They celebrated with Nadal, but sympathized with Federer. Emotions ran amok.

Just as Nadal's back touched the worn grass on Centre Court, the TV winked out. It was 4am on Monday morning and my champion lost. All the oxygen got sucked out of my living room.

Nadal found the cracks in Federer's armor and bullied his way in. Brute force eventually won out over innovation. The Spaniard was simply unstoppable, persisting with rallies until he had the upper hand. Still, that same pressure pushed Federer to further elevate his game. He fought to the bitter end, shocking everyone with a beautiful backhand return winner even as his opponent served for the championship. The man went out in style.

Looking back, I realize I should have watched the awards ceremony. I should have borne the agony of watching another man lift the Wimbledon trophy. I should have, because Federer did. And did so with grace, knowing he lost to the better man. Even in defeat, he sets the example for the rest of us.

I am not alone in my grief. Eben Harrell comes to terms with the fall of our hero, saying that Federer's loss spells the death of beauty.

2 seen below:

Anonymous said...

oh well that's life with sports. at least he lost to the better man.

kubiyat said...

harsh, but true. things come and go. that's life, and sports.

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