Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tennis anyone?

I must confess that I have let other activities slide while I sit (or wallow) in front of my TV set watching tennis on Eurosport. I have watched sequentially the Italian/Rome Open, the German/Berlin-Hamburg Open, and now the French/Paris Open. Quite a lot of watching. Although it appears passive, watching so much running around can be exhausting.
What are my thoughts after all this obsessive viewing? That I still fail to understand the difference between clay, as in Rolland Garros in Paris and grass, as in Wimbledon, London. Never mind that its the main focus of all comments about tennis. The commentators wax poetic about the difference between clay and hard court (or asphalt as in the US), but it turns out that all "clay" is is brick dust (yes, because its plentiful and cheap) spread out on a hard base. They say such things as "Nadal is the king of clay," and they discuss at great length whether or not Federer (the "king of grass") can beat Nadal on clay.
Frankly there seems little difference to me (I know this is tennis blasphemy), but I presume that the French decided on clay because they can't produce a nice green lawn to save their lives. So tennis balls bounce less off clay than on asphalt and less than on grass, that has a certain spring to it, but so what? Also, players can slide on clay, while they can't on asphalt and grass. So it's a bit different, but if someone is supposed to be one of the best players in the world, they should stop hiding behind this little difference and blame the real culprit if they lose on clay or grass, namely themselves. If someone consistently hits the ball into the net or over the baseline its not because of clay its because they aren't playing well! I'm fed up with them using the surface as an excuse!
In my opinion there are two kinds of players, those who go out to win every point come what may (as represented by Nadal), and those who are too diffident (such as Federer). It seems that Federer, can't play well unless he's losing, while Nadal can't play well unless he's whopping his opponent. The difference between Federer, a gentleman player who prefers conservative navy, and Nadal, who is flashy and likes bright green, is absolute.
I've seen some epic battles, such as Nadal vs. Djokovic at the Berlin Open; now that's a pair where the game is really a matter of life or death and winning is all. And anything with Safina; I happened to see Safina close up at the tennis center in Ramat Gan playing in the Federation Cup for Russia against Israel. She looks like a ruddy Russian farm girl come straight out of the harvest. She is the opposite of Sharapova, who is beautiful, classy, poised and deadly. Yet, Safina, who was classified as no. 53 in the world, won the German open and she came from one and half sets down twice to beat Sharapova and Dementieva (who wears pink frilly costumes), and then she beat Kuznetsova in the semi-final.
Now there is one mystery in tennis, how is it that the majority of the best players are Slavs. In the women's game they dominate (Russians: Sharapova, Dementieva, Safina, Kuznetzova; and Serbians Ivanovic and Jankovic and also Djokovic in the men's game). Where are the Brits, the Americans and the Australians who used to dominate the game until a few year's ago? This year the two women's semifinals in Paris were all-Russian and all-Serbian. Finally, Ivanovic, who has a sweet smile, at the top of her form beat Safina in two sets in the final, and went to No.1 in the world (after last year's champion Henin retired and Sharapova was beaten) and earned 1 million euros. Not bad!
In Paris, five French men were in the last 16, but only one of them, Gael Monfils, a tall, lanky, black guy, survived. He was finally beaten in the semi-final by Federer. Monfils has great potential but his playing is erratic and unpolished. Once again, Federer couldn't win without giving away a set to Monfils. Now the denouement, Nadal defeted Federer in what was a disappointing final of the French Open. Federer seemed to be hardly trying, although Nadal was his usual aggressive self.
By the way, Rolland Garros was a famous early aviator - typically French, he had nothing to do with tennis.


Post a Comment

<< Home