Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wimbledon and the Rivalry

It’s difficult to get a handle on Wimbledon: so many players are in such poor form. Federer, of course, is the top player lacking top form, but you can say similar things about Murray, Roddick, and Djokovic (the latter being most disappointing: he really looked special in the Australian Open he won and since then, nothing.). The player who does seem to be in more-or-less good form is Nadal, and we’re unsure about his grass prowess after a year-long layoff.

If I have to pick a sentimental favorite, it’s Andy Roddick, a player who seems more limited than he perhaps is: you compare him to the Federer/Nadal duopoly and you focus on what he can’t do; watch him play most normal tennis-playing human beings his talents emerge more fully. He’s brought out the full arsenal and weight of fire to bear against Federer on two separate occasions and been found wanting on the scale that Federer demands. And yet I felt, at the conclusion of his epic five-set loss to Federer last year, that he deserved to be champion sometime in the future. (The old Phil Mickelson/Peyton Manning curse of “Best Player Not To Win A Championship; though of course Roddick is considerably less infuriating/annoying/overpromoted than either of the preceding gentlemen.) And given the aforementioned lack of momentum on the part of the usual suspects, it’s possible he might bring sneak into a title. He’s in a favorable quarter of the draw—Djokovic, Monfils, Cilic, and Kohlschreiber are the other seeds—but he’d be matched up against Federer in the semis, meaning he’d likely have to beat Federer then Nadal in order to win, a feat that’s probably beyond Roddick’s abilities.

So as usual, you’d have to expect that it’s all about the rivalry: Federer-Nadal; Nederer or Fedal or some such portmanteau. As with any such matchup, you’d have to be excited if it came to pass, though for once I might actually root for Federer: Nadal has had his way with Federer much too often lately, and the rivalry is at risk of devolving into a rout. Which wouldn’t be too fun, would it? It’s produced far too much brilliance to see it decay. But I have an odd little suspicion that it won’t happen: either Federer or Nadal doesn’t make it to the finals (and yes, that’d be an upset).

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