Welcome! (I guess...)

For those of you who by some extremely unlikely set of circumstances happened to stumble upon this page, I apologize to you. For those of you who intentionally came to this page - yikes! As the title of the weblog indicates, these are my Ramblings About Whatever. There is a chance that I will ramble about just about anything (as I am in this introduction), but only a select few topics will actually make this site. Enjoy! (I guess...)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On the Eve of Wimbledon, Some Thoughts on Tennis

In a few short days the 2007 edition of The Championships, Wimbledon, will get underway. Frankly, I'm excited about this, just as I am every year. Wimbledon seems to hold a much grander importance than any of the other Grand Slam tournaments. It is the oldest and certainly seems to be the most coveted of the major championships. I do not wish to write an extended piece on Wimbledon itself, or this year's tournament for that matter (I'll consider doing so at the conclusion if events during the fortnight warrant such an entry), but I will say that on the men's side I expect Roger Federer to win (yes, I know I'm going out on a limb on that one). At the same time, I do expect Rafael Nadal to get back to the final to face Federer just as he did last year. These two are easily the best two players in the world. But whereas very many of the so-called experts out there seem unwilling to admit, I believe that the gap between Federer and Nadal is considerably smaller than the gap between the two and everyone else.

Watching the French Open coverage was particularly infuriating this year. The fact that so many of the "experts" out there considered Roger Federer to be the favorite over Nadal was baffling. It was absolutely astounding to see how many of these people allowed their clear desire to see Federer win both a calendar Grand Slam and career Grand Slam, especially in view of his victory against Nadal in a relatively meaningless clay court match shortly before the start of the French Open, to so completely cloud their judgments as to render them nearly veritable fools. It was as if the moment Federer won at Hamburg by defeating Nadal all of these people collectively said (whether in their heads or out loud), "Like, oh my gosh!!! Roger Federer just totally beat Rafael Nadal on clay! Federer is so great! He's like totally going to win the French Open! I totally wonder if Nadal is even going to reach the final! Roger is the greatest ever!" Now, to be fair, I do believe that at this point Federer is the best player that I have ever seen. I think Federer now (whether he is truly in his prime at this point) would beat Pete Sampras in his prime more often than not on Sampras's best surface, grass. Additionally, Federer, barring injury, would never lose to Sampras on clay. That being said, these people still behaved as idiots before the French Open, and throughout the tournament up until the championship match. They seemed to forget that going into this year's French Open, if you excluded clay court matches, Nadal's record against Federer was a respectable 2-3. For those wondering, that is two victories for each on hard court and Federer with the lone victory on grass. However, once you included clay court matches into the record (again, prior to this year's French), Nadal's record would improve to 7-4. Okay, so this shows that Nadal has more than held his own in his career against Federer. But in addition to this, prior to Nadal's loss at Hamburg, he had won 81 consecutive matches on clay. That's longer than any other male player on any surface ever. And then you throw in the extra fact that Nadal had never lost a match at the French Open and you start to wonder what wonderfully potent hallucinogenic drug were these "experts" on at the time. But again, the start of Wimbledon is imminent. Last year Federer and Nadal became the first two male players in the open era to reach the French Open and Wimbledon finals in the same year. Each player won on his own stronger surface, with Federer winning seventeen games in defeat at the French, while Nadal won sixteen games in defeat at Wimbledon. If the two meet in the final, Federer will be the favorite, as he should be, but you will likely be able to count the number of "experts" on one hand (perhaps one finger?) who will actually favor Nadal to win. Nadal will not nearly get the same sort of respect that Federer got leading up to the French Open. Personally, I actually think that the gap between the two on clay is increasing, whereas I'm predicting that we'll see the gap between the two on grass decrease. This means, of course, that I believe that the overall gap between Federer and Nadal is decreasing...

And on to something that is even more troubling to me than what I have already mentioned... Have you ever noticed how elite tennis players will play doubles? And in this case, I do mean to include such players as the Bryan brothers as elite tennis players. I mean players like Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or, on the women's side Justine Henin or Maria Sharapova. While it is true that the top players in the women's game seem to be less likely to play doubles (Henin and Sharapova, for instance, have yet to play doubles matches this year), the obvious question is why in blazes do the top men's players ever play doubles? It seems to me that Henin and Sharapova are smart of enough not to waste any time or energy playing doubles, so why don't Federer and Nadal follow suit? Now granted, the two play doubles far less frequently than they play singles, but I am of the opinion that the only time they should ever play doubles is if they have a kid brother who is struggling to make some money playing tennis so they play alongside to help the kid out. Maybe I'll include a cousin in there, but I draw the line at second cousins. Now as with every rule, this one has an exception. And the exception to this rule is for mixed doubles. I could understand if these players played mixed doubles because it might give them the opportunity to play with and against hot girls. In fact, I'm just going to amend what I just said. They should not even play doubles to help their kid brother have a little success. They should only play mixed doubles, and only if they can be certain that they are partnered with a hot chick. I will make one exception, and that would be Marat Safin. Safin is in the rare position where he could play alongside his sister, Dinara Safina, and just totally hit on the hot chick on the other team throughout the match. Safina is a good enough (currently ranked number thirteen) where she could carry the play for a while. And during that time Safin could hit on the chicks. Well, I've gone on for long enough, but the important message to take away is top dude tennis players should never play doubles, except for mixed doubles, and only with a hot partner.

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