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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Breakfast at Wimbledon: I'll have the french toast

Well, in case you missed it, and the ratings will surely indicate that you probably did, world No. 1 Roger Federer won his fifth straight Wimbledon in five sets over No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the championship today, in one of the greatest matches in tennis history.

Federer equals Bjorn Borg's record of five consecutive men's singles titles (1976-80), and wins his 11th Grand Slam overall. He continues the same mastery on grass that Nadal has had on clay, beating him in the finals of Wimbledon for the second straight year, a month after Nadal had finished off the same feat against Federer in back-to-back French Opens.

It was the capper to one of the most enjoyable Wimbledons in years. The ultimate clash in the men's final, Venus wins her fourth women's title as a 23rd seed, and these more subtle points:

The sneaky hotness of the quirky French girl who Venus beat in the final. Marion Bartoli, with your slightly mousy hair and the cellulite on your thighs, you give us a stark contrast from your fashion-designer and Olympus-bodied opponent. Yes, you may have lost to a far superior athlete, but you won us over with your subtly flirty ways, like how you hop up and down but never once bounce the ball before you go into your Luis Tiant-like serve motion. Or how you let down your hair before the trophy celebration. Or how you tried to knock us off the scent with loving paeans to your dad in the post-match interviews. We know you're a daddy's girl, Marion, but so is everyone else. It's unavoidable. We want you and you want us, and we know it. And we also know that the moment you read this, you're probably not going to let us within 500 feet of a WTA event, but, ah, it is only from afar that you can truly and properly pine away for a French girl.

Andy Roddick's choke job in the quarterfinals. What would a Grand Slam be these days if it didn't include a disappointment from the erstwhile inheritor of the American tennis throne? It would be a Grand Slam, all right. The broadcasts of John McEnroe and Mary Carillo would still go on, yes, and the American fans would still ignore them. But it would just be missing that ... something, like chocolate chip cookies baked without that dash of vanilla, or tomato sauce sans oregano. And there was Roddick, up two sets to love on Richard Gasquet, staring a match up with Federer in the semifinals right in the face. The kind of matchup that, on a Saturday at Wimbledon, might actually draw an American audience. The kind of matchup that might force NBC to actually carry it live. The kind of matchup that could allow Roddick to actually live up to all the promise. This was just far too mind-blowing a scenario, and it was going to happen. Thankfully, Roddick decided, as he always does, that he didn't like what he saw when he caught a glimpse of success, and promptly gacked up the next three sets to Gasquet. Well done, Andy! You again allowed Richard Williams to retain his place on the mantle as the most important man in American tennis. He'll be mailing a thank you note and those expired Denny's coupons just as soon as he finishes his interviews with European media outlets and gets back to the States. Which should be in about three weeks.

Thierry Henry appears in a Gillette commercial during the men's final. On American television. The French soccer star pitches razors alongside Federer and Tiger Woods. What, was Tom Brady unavailable? Did Peyton Manning see a doctored picture of Jim Nabors with a beard and think, "Hmm, that seems to work for him, maybe it will look good on me, too"? Granted, the American tennis audience is microscopic, and the people in this country who do watch are very often of foreign extraction, but, still, an international soccer star not named Pele? In a commercial? Really? Maybe, since soccer on Univision now regularly outdraws the NHL, they should have broadcast this match in Spanish. Nadal's from Spain, so you have a built-in audience there, and the Europeans who seem to make up a large part of the tennis audience are far more likely than Americans to understand multiple languages. I think this is a smart idea, and its time will come, since networks always figure out ways to squeeze every penny out of sporting events. Como se dice "Better buy a Spanish-English dictionary and a bumblebee suit," Juan McEnroe?

Line calls continue to be determined by cartoons.
Why doesn't tennis just use instant replay instead of showing some computer-generated image of what the last shot looked like? It's like if football replays were decided by a Tecmo Bowl simulation of the previous play on the Jumbotron. Actually, forget it, I think that would be fun. Possession after a fumble would be determined by who was closest to the ball after a random, volleyball like sequence of bounces across the field, and it would be just as fair as who bites who's nuts last in the pileup on the field.

Bud Collins works his last Wimbledon for NBC. Now that the veteran tennis commentator and Boston Globe columnist has been asked to leave the broadcast team, the heels of his espadrilles disappearing into the horizon as he walks into the sunset, Nadal's capri pants officially become the fruitiest pieces of clothing in tennis. Seriously ... c'mon, guys, this is tennis! We desperately need some kid from Texas with a big backhand to start dressing like Joe Buck on the court and get to the U.S. Open quarters. The sport's reputation may well depend on this.

1 comment:

Sonny Barger said...

First you talk about the beautiful French girl, despite her light peppering of cellulite, and then you show Andy Roddick (Rod-Dick?) ready for sodomizing. You’re a strange duck, Chuck.

You're one of them goddamn hippies.