Swiss magician Roger Federer treated us to an astounding display of tennis last night, overwhelming world number one Novak Djokovic to reach his eighth Wimbledon final.
It has been years since Federer took to a tennis court with such irresistible skill and intensity. Djokovic, who has been nigh unbeatable over the last several seasons, was made to look decidedly second best.
A victory for Federer in Sunday’s final would hold seismic ramifications for the sport. Roger’s glory days were supposedly behind him, consigned to our memories by the seemingly impenetrable dominance of his younger rivals.
Sorry Maria Sharapova but being hot just isn’t enough. The tennis world has lead the way in gender equality, with the current Grand Slam Wimbledon, for example, introducing equal prize money for the men’s and women’s singles titles in 2007.
This is despite the fact the women only play to 3 sets and the men play to 5. Anyone who has ever watched a Grand Slam will agree there is a huge difference between a five-set battle and a three-setter.
Sharapova maintains the equal pay was hard won. “We women have fought so long to get equal prize money,” the Russian champion said overnight. “It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us. It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten that. We’re all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger.”
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Not for a minute am I suggesting young Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic is immature. That said, it’d be better if he took his anger out on his bathtime rubber duckie instead of the immaculate turf of Wimbledon.
Seriously, far be it for a balding suburban slob like me to suggest a 19 year old isn’t entitled to show some raw emotion. It’s just that, well, you’d love to see some of that aggression channelled into smashing his opponents instead of his own racquets.
Look, clearly Tomic has grown up of late. Everyone around him will tell you that almost as as eagerly as young Bernie himself. And y’know, you’d almost be inclined to believe him if it wasn’t so damned obvious he’s wearing a huge nappy under those oversized shorts.
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When you hear the words “father”, “coach” and “talented young tennis player” in the same sentence, it’s usually time to oil the rifle. For now, though, let’s give young Australian tennis star Bernard Tomic the benefit of the doubt.
Overnight, Tomic became the only Australian men’s player other than Lleyton Hewitt to make the Wimbledon quarter finals since 2003 with his demolition of some Belgian dude with an X in his name. He’ll now face world number two Novak Djokovic, whom he beat in an exhibition match in Melbourne last summer.
In serious competition, Djokovic will likely whip Tomic. But as the youngest man in the draw, the Australian’s performances at Wimbledon this year prove beyond doubt that he has now officially arrived, after all the years of hype. So now that he’s here, what can we expect to see?
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Arthur Ashe became the first African American tennis player to win Wimbledon singles’ championship today in 1975.
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“Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports”, wrote author David Foster Wallace, “but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty.
The relation is roughly that of courage to war.” Although Wallace was writing mostly about tennis, the principle of beauty in sport applies equally to football.
And when tennis stars like Serena Williams are called on to comment on matches at the World Cup, from Wimbledon, we sense the relationship between beauty and courage may have gone awry.
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I used to hate him too. Used to cringe when he yelled “c’mooooooon”. Wanted to strangle the little effer any time he argued with umps, Australian Open CEO Paul McNamee and anyone in his path.
Used to yell “put the frikkin’ sock puppet away, jerk brain” when he did the hand-pointing thing.
Suddenly, I am experiencing a strange new emotion.
Quite simply, Lleyton Hewitt is not annoying me anymore. I think – and I say this with my finger poised just above the delete button – I think I’m actually starting to like the guy.
Right from the top, I want to make it really clear that this has nothing to do with his unexpected charge at Wimbledon this week. It’s Lleyton the man I’ve warmed to, not just Lleyton the tennis player.
That’s right, Lleyton Hewitt the man.
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