So I’ve been volunteering at the Roger’s Cup this week as an usher, or a “placier” for all you French-lovers out there. My job is basically to check tickets as people enter the stadium. The days are long (6-8 hours) and the weather has been HOT. While standing in the scorching sun all day has it’s disadavantages, I’ve managed to watch a ton of tennis and always from a great vantage point. So far, it’s been a really enjoyable experience, and the weekend will surely offer some great matches. In no particular order, here are some of my impressions:
- What a coup for Montreal to have the top two players and two of the world’s most recognizable athletes in Federer and Nadal in the field. Whether a tournament draws the best of the best is always a toss-up but Montreal being a truly appealing city had to be a large factor.
- These players are truly contrasts of each other. Nadal grunts his way to victory while Federer remains quiet as a cat. Nadal uses sheer power to beat his opponents while Federer seems to glide around the court with the grace of a figure skater. Nadal outwardly exudes the confidence of an Ali in his prime while Federer calmly goes about his business, outwardly showing his passion only at certain moments. Nevertheless, Nadal coming along when he did has done wonders for the game, giving it a bonafide rivalry for tennis supremacy. And if you read my previous post, you know how I feel about rivalries.
- There seem to be two distinct sets of fans here. The first are the traditionalists attending for the love of the game. The second (predominantly female I should say) are attending because they think the players are hot. One example of this would be hundreds of fans (again, predominantly female) clamouring around a practice to watch Nadal skip rope. He wasn’t even playing tennis! Meanwhile, Roddick was playing on centre court. I guess everyone has their priorities.
- Speaking of Roddick, he’s got to be the third most popular player in the field this week, his boyish good looks and his 200 plus km/hr serve being the main reasons. If we get a Federer/Roddick final that in any way resembles their epic duel at Wimbledon last month, this event will be deemed a huge success.
- Unlike other sports, except perhaps golf, tennis seems to be a gentleman’s game steeped in tradition. Players routinely clap (raquet to hand) in appreciation of a great shot by their opponent. In golf, you do see players saying “nice putt” to their opponent but I can’t picture a pitcher in baseball going “nice hit” after giving up a home run or an NBA player going “nice dunk” after being posterized.
- By far the best match so far was today’s three-setter featuring Roddick beating world number 11 Verdasco in today’s afternoon session. The only two breaks came at the end of the third set and the match finished with Roddick surviving the tiebreak 7-5. Best moment of the tournament so far.
- Too bad for those who payed up to $200 for Nadal’s first match yesterday evening. The match lasted all of 36 minutes after his opponent David Ferrer conceded the match due to injury. No refunds were offered.
I’ll leave you with something that I can only wish I wrote after Federer’s marathon win over Roddick at Wimbledon.
Let me put this bluntly: Is Roger Federer part of a Matrix-like artificial reality or is he flesh and blood?
During the final, I couldn’t help focusing on three things. The first was the button on Federer’s Nike shirt. Through more than four hours of punishing tennis, sun-baked by British standards, it remained buttoned up. I mean, come on!
Think back to the upstart Andy Murray, the latest Brit who couldn’t quite, in his losing semifinal to Roddick. The Murray shirt was unbuttoned, of course, and somewhat disheveled, like his game on the day, and there was absolutely no question about the young man’s appurtenance to the human race, a rather surly branch of it at that.
The second was the absence from Federer’s face of even a bead of sweat as droplets poured from Roddick’s forehead and slid from the underside of his endlessly adjusted cap — further evidence for The Matrix theory.
The third was the fact that Federer wore a belt — a belt — in his stylish shorts, as if he was ambling through a Calvin Klein ad rather than serving 50 nonchalant aces and putting on a record-breaking athletic display.