Monday, June 6, 2011

Anyone else glad that the clay court season is finally over?

I have really enjoyed watching professional tennis on television these past several weeks.  The red clay and the venues of Europe are beautifully picturesque, and the style of tennis that must be played to be successful on the surface is both admirable and laudable.  However, it does get rather monotonous.

Novak Djokovic’s streak was finally broken by Roger Federer – the Swiss player was both the last person to beat the Serb (in November, 2010!) and the only one to beat him (thus far) this year – in a thrilling match that ended after dark last Friday night in the semifinals of the French Open.  Unfortunately, it led to the inevitable futility of Roger trying to beat Rafa at Roland Garros, which was anticlimactic given the much anticipated “best of 5 set” showdown everyone wanted between the Spaniard and the Serbian.

Because of the time that it takes to construct and then win each point in a clay court match, I prefer to watch the more traditional “best of 3 set” format matches.  Sitting down to watch an entire Grand Slam men’s match that goes 4 or 5 sets can take too much time on hard courts and even on the grass at Wimbledon, but on clay it’s nearly intolerable.  I don’t think that Federer likes it either; while he’s been able to beat Nadal in a “best of 3 set” format on clay, not even the Swiss Maestro has the patience to beat his nemesis over 5 sets on the surface.

How would Novak do in a “best of 5 set” clay court match against Rafa?  We’ll have to wait another year (or more) to find out.  Still, while it was very entertaining to watch these two duel over two sets in two different clay court finals leading up to the French – matches that were marked by 20+ set rallies which were won (surprisingly and) primarily by the surging Serb – I don’t know if I could have set still for the 6+ hours it might have taken for one to beat the other had they met in the Grand Slam final played on clay.  After all, it was just a couple of years ago that the two played for more than 4 hours in the 2009 Madrid final, the longest three-set singles match on the ATP World Tour in the Open Era.

Bring on Wimbledon!

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