alexandra alger


Archive for the tag “tennis”

Thoughts on Tennis, Post-Wimbledon

Watching Roger Federer defeat Marin Cilic to clinch a record eighth Wimbledon title at nearly 36 years old, something that nobody would’ve or could’ve predicted a year go, including the great Fed himself, I couldn’t help thinking how lucky we tennis fans are, to be able to witness this extraordinary period in men’s tennis, which is stretching on, with no end in sight. On the women’s side, though, I can’t figure out what’s going on.

Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, posting after the Wimbledon women’s singles final:

“….women’s tennis is in a weird—yet oddly intoxicating—place. The sport’s alpha female (Serena Williams) is profoundly pregnant, hasn’t played since winning the Australian Open and almost certainly won’t play again this year. The player who started the year at No. 1 (Angie Kerber) has been a non-entity. The new No. 1 (Karolina Pliskova) just lost with a whimper in the second round here. One multi-time major champ (Maria Sharapova) has been idled by a doping suspension and then injury. Another (Petra Kvitova) is coming back from a stabbing suffered in a home invasion. And who has risen highest? A bold 20-year-old, Jelena Ostapenko, who was outside the top 40 memorial and is now inside the top ten. Venus Williams, who has been to two of the three major finals. And Garbine Muguruza, now a multi-Slam winner.”

I’m not sure I agree this is an “intoxicating” time. When the top women don’t live up to expectations in a Grand Slam, it’s hard to get excited about them. Simona Halep—what happened? She should’ve won the French; it didn’t happen. Wimbledon? Nope. I’m sure Serena will be back, after giving birth, as dominant as ever, and she’ll be a wonder to behold. But who will be up there with her, challenging her to play her best? Probably not Venus, who lost to Muguruza in a dispiriting way (bageled in the second set!). Muguruza, maybe, who beat her in the French Open last year, in a mesmerizing match. And Ostapenko—she is as powerful and aggressive as they come, but green still. Lucky us, we won’t have long to wait. The U.S. Open is just around the corner.

Inspiration from Rafa Nadal: Fight!

I’ve been glued to the French Open this week. ESPN and Tennis Channel make watching live tennis from around the globe just so easy. Too easy. And I’m so weak! I could’ve taped matches and watched them after writing hours. Of course I could have. And I clearly have to develop some discipline before Wimbledon begins in a month. I admire the red clay and the gritty play of Paris, but I love the elegance of grass courts and players all in white (and it is kind of fun when the camera finds a royal or two). I remember the days when Roger Federer ruled the grass, and he’d appear on Centre Court in a crisply tailored white jacket that he wore solely for that walk to his chair before his match.

Yesterday, with my computer in front of me, patiently waiting for my attention, I turned on the Rafa-Djokovic French Open quarter final. There wasn’t much to watch, sadly. Rafa Nadal, the King of Clay, who has won a record nine French Open titles, was trounced in straight sets.

Shocked? Yes. Surprised? No. Most commenters had been expecting Djokovic to win. Nadal has struggled in recent months. He didn’t win even one of the clay-court tournaments that he usually dominates and has dominated for nearly a decade. Then again, he’s got good reasons for not being at his best. He had an appendectomy at the end of last year, and has been dealing with back, wrist and knee issues.

Some commenters have already declared him past his prime. They aren’t saying his career is finished, but coming awfully close. It seems to me that anyone who’s watched Rafa for any length of time would know that he is nowhere close to retiring.

He just took the biggest beating of his career (arguably), and what does he take from it?

This is what he said after the match:

”I accept the defeats and there is only one sure thing: I want to work harder even than before to come back stronger. I am going to fight.”

I am going to fight. This from a man who’s already in the history books as one of the best of all time. He’s won 14 Gram Slams, tied for second place with Pete Sampras (behind Federer, who’s won 17). It’s incredible that he still has the fire to achieve even more. Nadal is my inspiration this week. You have to work hard and harder and fight for what you want.

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