Grand Slams look unfamiliar these days.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Because Federer is exiting so early. No, not the first-round, but even the quarter-final is such an unexpected result from my favourite player. In fact, I usually do not watch the early rounds in Grand Slams at all, catching up with Roger when he strode into the quarters and beyond, mostly winning, sometimes losing, but always, always immensely, delightfully watchable.
Now, without Federer, the courts seems emptied of artistry, bereft of magic. The red clay of Roland Garros is harsher, bloodier with the grunting, lunging, gutsy, athletic Nadal and his power-tennis. Wimbledon's grass is no longer that shade of brilliant green it was for the past so many years.
Now, watching the finals of a Grand Slam is no longer a matter of biting fingernails, knotting-up stomach and clenching fingers together in prayer. Where I would jump from point to point, game to game, set to set, swinging between hope and despair. Where I could cry unabashedly when Federer's subtle charms would self-destruct or be mauled by the hard-hitting determination of his opponent, usually Nadal. Where I could watch, enraptured by the mastery of a man who could transform a movement into a masterpiece with his timing, touch, grace and fluidity. Where I would rejoice at witnessing magic and history weaving together a unique spectacle.
Now, I can relax during a Grand Slam final. It's just two men slugging it out - with the stronger one, in mind and body, the one who seizes the moment, winning. Tennis has become a battle of power once again. A game for gritty warriors, not the magic of the artist.