Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Wide World of Sports

Roger Federer's so good that he often has ball boys hold books for him to read during matches. He won this point while engrossed in Dr. Zhivago.

Roger Federer, the tennis genius I refuse to call the Swiss Maestro because it makes him sound like a character from a Seinfeld subplot, has withdrawn from next week's Stockholm Open. He explained his decision by saying, "I feel fortunate to be healthy again, but I want to remain at the top of the game for many more years to come and go after the No. 1 ranking again. In order to do that, I need to get a proper rest and get strong again so that I am 100 percent fit for the remainder of the year or next year."

Good plan and everything, but why didn't he try it earlier in the year when his game was suffering the most? I'm a Federer fanatic, as some of you might know, and I'll probably be in therapy over his Wimbledon loss for the next several years. His performance at the U.S. Open made some of that anguish (yes, anguish -- I was like a character in an Ingmar Bergman movie following that Wimbledon final) subside, though there were times during the Andreev match when I almost threw my remote at the TV in frustration.

Work prevented me from writing much of anything about the U.S. Open this year, but nearly a month later I can say this: It will be a long time before I forget the feeling of Zen-like calm that came over me when Federer dismantled Novak Djokovic in the semis. It was apparent that his desire to win was great enough that neither Nadal nor Murray would stand a chance in the final, and in many ways his win over Murray was anticlimactic. As for Murray, while I'm appreciative of his improved game and enjoy his celebratory flexing, I've yet to buy into this "Murray as master tactician" line of thought. A master tactician wouldn't have played Federer the same way he played Nadal -- anyone could have predicted it would result in a loss.

On a tennis-related side note...

To everyone who finds this blog via the search string "maria sharapova lesbian" -- and there have been a lot of you lately -- let's get something straight. Yes, I joke about Sharapova every now and then. She's one of my favorite players and she's someone who registers on quite a few gaydars, so for me it's an 'I kid because I love' kind of thing. To save you any time you might waste poking around for previous mentions of her, here's the deal: I haven't written anything about her personal life. I don't know anything about her personal life, though I'm aware of the rumors.

If asked to comment on her personal life, there are three things I would say:

1) I can't believe people were stupid enough to fall for those fake Adam Levine quotes. (Please, don't be fooled by Yakov Smirnoff, humor does exist in Russia.) Okay, fine, I can believe it. People are really stupid.

2) It comes off as pathetic when tennis commentators are eager to romantically link her to any male player she's friends with. How often do you tune into an NFL game just in time to hear Joe Buck say, "And there goes #45, who is rumored to be boinking that redheaded cheerleader with the smokin' ass!"

I know that just about everyone who makes a mint off the sport is eager to assure the viewing public that those "four in ten" figures Rennae Stubbs offered to The Age are baloney, but they should also understand that we don't turn on tennis coverage expecting to hear breathless reports about the mating (or shopping) habits of the players. That's better left to Entertainment Tonight. Mary Hart can sell that kind of crap. Tennis analysts can't.

3) You're off your ever-lovin' rocker if you think the highest-paid female athlete in the world would come out in her early twenties, when she's still a top player and raking in endorsement cash. That's assuming she's not straight, of course.

Anyway, let's recap: Federer should have worked on the proper rest thing months ago. And if you're looking for photos of Maria Sharapova playing naked doubles with Camilla Belle, you're in the wrong place.

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