Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good Morning Chicken Little, The Sky Has Fallen

Not so fast there Chicken Little...if you watch TV, listen to sports radio or read the newspaper you undoubtedly have heard that Rafael Nadal beat world number one, and potential GOAT, Roger Federer in the finals of Wimbledon a few weeks back. Much has been said about this was the greatest match ever played, it was the passing of the proverbial torch, Federer is now mortal, Nadal is going to win 20 Grand Slams and so on and so forth.

These types of broad, media driven statements can annoy me to no end. They also provide the non-tennis following contingent opportunity to speak up at the water cooler like they have any idea what they're talking about. No offense, but I don't play golf and I certainly don't become an expert because I saw the highlights of Tiger winning the US Open on SportsCenter. Just like any sport, tennis is full of nuances, contradictions and red herrings.

"This was the greatest match ever played"

This type of a statement is a true compliment for both Nadal and Federer. Their match consisted of unbelievably high quality tennis for four and half hours through two rain delays and impending darkness. There were amazing points where Nadal and Federer came up with spectacular shots to save break and match points. But was this the greatest match ever played?

Every few years we hear TV announcers proclaim a match to be "the greatest match ever played". Most recently it was the five set, barn burner between the Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and Lleyton "COME ON" Hewitt at the Australian Open that went lasted until 4:33AM. Or maybe the US Open match between American men Andre Agassi and James Blake a few years ago? The bottom line is that there have been many memorable matches and they will be measured in history not only based on their outcome but their impact on the sport as a whole.

The Federer-Nadal match has the potential to elevate the state of tennis in the eyes of Americans who typically don't watch tennis on TV or kids who are busy playing other team sports, or worse, video games. TV viewership was up 44% over last year's Federer-Nadal clash and in Britain, roughly half of the nation's TVs were tuned to the match. And, to my dismay, I received countless emails from non-tennis playing colleagues and friends about the match. So was it the "greatest match every played?" only time will tell, but it was certainly one that will be replayed during every rain delay on an NBC tennis telecast for years to come. Too bad neither player receives syndication royalties. :-)

In the words of Dennis Miller, "But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Time for a new post, eh?