Monday, September 10, 2007


Jim Courier got me hooked on tennis. The bended cap, single backhand, his high jump on serve and his power play & serve-and-volley.

Back in my time, if you're a school kid and into tennis, like every kid on this side of the world, my friends looked up to Michael Chang, the dynamo, the first Energizer bunny. He made up on big calves muscles for his lack of height and it wasn't pretty for me.Adam Malik paved the Malaysian way and Michael Chang-style was the only thing on the menu. I hated the chasing after the yellow ball, picking up the ball ALL the time during practices, expensive access to courts and most importantly, it was a wimpsy non-contact sport. I guess, to correct myself, Jim Courier got me hooked on watching tennis.

Then came Pistol Pete. Jim Courier 2.0. No one even came close to knocking this guy off his pedestal, but clay was his kryptonite and there were no Grand Slam in his otherwise brilliant career. Young Fedex soon came along, he was the typical rookie - talented, petulant, moody and plays great tennis when in control (beaten Sampras before he retired). In his company, the other promising up & coming stars were Andy Roddick and Marat Safin. What happened next in Federer's career is well chronicled, but Roger & Marat were very similar when they first started. Geniuses but cranky.

Roger turned 26 this year, and in tennis years, he's 74. Most critics and the public are starting to call him GOAT, they have to go way back in the record books to see if Roger hasn't broken any of them. The one that's been weighing on his mind is breaking Pete Sampras's 14 Grand Slams record (2 away) and oh yeah, another would be winning the French Open.

Many youngsters are waiting to be his successor to Roger's tennis throne, Nadal, Djokovic, Isner are all waiting to pounce, but the master had shown he's not ready to hand over the baton just yet. It was Nadal at the French Open final, this time it's Novak Djokovic whom came close last night in the US Open final.

Watching the final, 2 things came to mind, brilliance conjured in Federer's play was expected and he only selectively ups his game when necessary. The score was 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4 to Federer. He was in cruising mode through the games while Novak slugged and groaned. In both tiebreakers, Roger shifted gear to 2nd and Djokovic, for less of a better word, choked.

The match was much closer than the scoreline already offers, if you watched the game, you can't help but think that the game was slowly playing out as how in Federer's mind. He knew.

At one play, Novak's crosscourt backhand zipped across the court inside the box diagonal to where he played the shot, which looked like a winner, and also showing up Roger (the crowd ooh). Roger anticipated, stepped up with his single-handed backhand crossed it back at a tighter angle and a higher degree of Swiss-precision. Mess with best, die like the rest. I can emphatise Novak's play, hey if i can't win a game, i'll try to embarrass the opponent too.

Enough of Roger, Novak is one for the future. He may have lost the US Open trophy last night, but he may have won another trophy whom was sitting in his player box, the lovely Maria Sharapova.

This won him his fans.

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