Sep 7, 2009
Nothing beats the wit of Rafael Nadal
I just saw Rafael Nadal play his fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the third round of the US open. There was one rally in particular that reminded me who I love tennis. I won't try and blind you with science, but basically Nadal hit it over the net. You thought to yourself: there is no way Almagro is getting to that. But somehow got it back over the net. He hit it back in such a way as to make you think: Nadal's toast. Then, incredibly, Nadal got his racket to the ball, and hit it back in such a way as to make you think: game over. But Almagro got to it and..... you get the picture. (I told you this wasn't going to be Phd level commentary). I know of no other sport that provokes such regular spirals of delight. Football is a long agonising struggle punctuated by ecstatic release. Basketball come close, with its end-to-end switcheroos, but the team nature of the sport can't deliver the personal battle to wits that tennis delivers— the giddy brinkmanship, the vertiginous delight, the air of high-octane flabberghast. Only great farce comes close — Noel Coward, or a Preston Sturges comedy, or Spielberg. Tennis makes me laugh the same way an Indiana Jones chase sequence makes me laugh.