I couldn’t have chosen a better time to give the tavaru-mane a visit. Any guesses?? No? Well, of course, it was the Wimbledon season! That said; one would definitely sympathize with me when told that the day of return was to be the day of the decider 😦 – the men’s final between Roger, the reigning champion, Federer and Rafael, his ultimate rival and challenger, Nadal
But, nothing and absolutely nothing could get me to move away from the TV screen for more than 2 minutes yesterday. It must’ve been around 3 hours that I was glued to my seat – the match played on Centre Court was that R-I-V-E-T-I-N-G. It must’ve looked like there was a spring attached to my behind; any task and I would jump around, do it in a jiffy and be back within a blink. Not even the rain-break tempted me to switch to cricket, which wasn’t too interesting anyway, snippets of the 1980 match between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe being shown was as enthralling as the current one!
When I first switched to the channel, Nadal had already won the first set and that drew a whoop from me. You’d be forgiven if you thought I was a Nadal fan. Not that I don’t admire his play and gamesman-ship, but I am not really a fan-fan, if you know what I mean. And the same holds good for Federer as well. Then why the war-whoop, do you ask? Well, strange though it may seem, I have always and I mean, a-l-w-a-y-s supported the under-dog and by this I don’t mean the one trailing, but the one fighting till the very end to win. That is except of course, when Steffi Graf played. I was and am an absolute Steffi fan, she is irreplaceable. Oh! How I hated Martina Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez, the times they defeated Steffi! Well, I digress! Anyway, by that rule, Rafa it had to be for me.
I was delighted when he won the second set too. It looked like this much-touted classic final was turning out to be one-sided. Boy, was I mistaken?! The next two sets went to the tie-break and Federer showed why he was the champion – he held his nerve and serve brilliantly to stage a thrilling come back. When Rafa missed the championship point in the fourth set, I was literally on my knees, saying, how could you?!! 😀
Federer went on to win that one and then, I had a feeling in my gut, that this was it, he would win this time too, may be it was meant for him. It was rather late in the night and the Monday work morning loomed large and we switched off the telly to catch some sleep. But right till my eye-lids were heavy I was thinking and hoping – if only Nadal pulled it off in the 5th?
Was I ecstatic on catching it on the morning news?! – Rafa had won it 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7. And unbelievably the match had gotten over at 9.15 PM British time after a second rain-break, which meant it would’ve been 2.45 AM IST!! Whew! I also caught what the champions had to say after the match on news and what was most heartening was the sporting spirit that clearly shone through their words. While Nadal was quick to reinforce – his winning Wimbledon was a dream come true, but that wouldn’t change Roger’s being a champion of 5 wins and the world-number-one; Federer was graceful in defeat when he accepted that Rafa was truly the better player and deserving winner on the day. For me, it is this spirit that really lends the sheen to championships like the Wimbledon and the French Open.
The same could be said of the ladies final on Saturday as well. Once again it was to be a square-off between the Williams’ sisters and it would be a display of power-play at its best. I’ve heard loads of comments where people say that such finals between the sisters are rigged, it’s a family affair and decided before-hand who’s gonna win on the day. But watching that match, I knew, it just couldn’t be true. Serena played brilliantly and Venus was made to fight tooth-and-nail for the win. Both are passionate players, while Serena is more vocal and boisterous (though she has tamed down a lot) Venus was the cool, calm and confident one. Again the sisters were graceful in victory and defeat and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the younger one – its awful losing the tournament, but even more tough luck being beaten by a sibling!
All in all, it was a fitting finale to a fantastic week of some great tennis played out at the All England Club (one earlier match worth mentioning was the 3rd round where a spirited Jie Zheng defeated the world number-one Ana Ivanovic in straight sets).
Watching this classic 5-set epic and one of the greatest tennis matches played ever between the two champions is a memory I shall cherish for a long long time to come 🙂