Monday, 21 June 2010

Snoreberries and cream

Wimbledon starts today. I'm of the default British mindset when it comes to tennis. I like it and will occasionally watch Grand Slam matches on telly but the only time I watch it for a number of days at a time is Wimbledon - oohh, the North Koreans just almost scored against the Portuguese there, I got quite distracted. Anyway, it's a great tournament and one of the events on the summer calendar I most look forward to, though I don't think I'd ever actually go as I suspect the whole experience would just be a little bit twee. One thing I do find extremely frustrating about it though, and this mirrors how I feel about most sport where the same thing happens, is that the same people win it over and over again. I find absolutely no entertainment in watching yet another Williams/Williams final, even though I know they're going to play some great tennis in the process. Similarly watching that mechanical genius Federer. It's not that I don't like any of these people, or don't admire their abilities, I just can't get excited about them winning over and over again.

The Federer/Nadal final was possibly the greatest game of tennis I've ever seen, but I remember it more fondly because Nadal won, his first Wimbledon title. Similarly, last year, the look on Roddick's face as he watched Federer lift his sixth trophy will stay with me for a long time. I felt so sorry for the bloke, and he said, "You've already got five of those, mate" to Federer, I just wanted somebody else to win for once. I confess I didn't even watch the women's final because I simply didn't care who won and it gets difficult to involve and immerse yourself in a sporting spectacle you don't care about, regardless of how well its protagonists are playing.

The regrettable fact is that, with rare exceptions like the men's final two years ago, I enjoy the first week of Wimbledon much more than the second week, simply because you can see matches between players you aren't already extremely familiar with and I find myself much more involved in their games' outcomes. That's not how it should be - I know I'm supposed to revel in the great tennis played by the best players in the second week, but ultimately sport is not ballet, though it is occasionally balletic. It's not enough to simply admire the aesthetic beauty and excellence of the best players at the top of their game. It's much more visceral than that. Watching sport is much more worthwhile if you care who wins. Even watching North Korea versus Portugal as I am now, I'm involved immediately because I'd absolutely love to see the North Koreans help that pouting, diving, cheating, winking fucker (you all know who I mean) out of the tournament.

So I'll watch Wimbledon's first week avidly (apart from when the World Cup games are on, obviously) but as for the second week? Well, we'll see how it goes.

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