The 2017 Australian Open

Tennis Grand Slam events are wonderful. To me they are the ultimate elimination bracket championship in sports (I realize many will disagree and side with the NCAA basketball tournament, but as someone with strong reservations about “amateur” college sports I have a stronger affinity for tennis). This year I caught small pieces of many matches via Sling TV.

By the time the championship matches arrived this past weekend, there was much talk of the tournament being a throwback. This talk was based on the Williams vs Williams and Federer vs Nadal matches, but it could have included my viewing behavior too. In the 2008-2012 window of time I would watch large amounts of tennis majors–especially the Australian Open. I returned to form this year, watching the majority of both finals in the wee hours of the morning.

In the women’s final I didn’t have a strong rooting interest. I found myself pulling for Venus, since she was such an underdog. But when Serena established her dominance I didn’t mind. The match was entertaining, but not particularly memorable. The story was great; the tennis was okay. I think the women’s matches lose out on a lot by being best of three. There is only so much drama that can fit in three sets, and two set finals are too common.

The men’s final was poetry. I’m a big Federer fan, so his return from injury and success in Australia was a source of happiness. When I get old I expect to tell people I watched the greatest tennis player of all time. I was hoping for a Federer vs Nadal final, since it might be the last championship clash between these titans of the court. Even though Nadal is Fed’s nemesis, I feel nothing but respect for him. In fact, if I’m honest, there is a part of me that fears him. He has a pocketful of kryptonite, derailing Federer even when he was playing otherworldly tennis.

The match did not disappoint. When the decisive fifth set began with Nadal breaking Federer’s serve I was worried. But Federer played inspired tennis. He attacked Nadal’s serve with fury. In the moments of highest tension he came through with a break. And then another break. In a very close match he edged ahead when it mattered most. Masterful tennis from a legend.

Every time I watch tennis I start to get the urge to play again. I need to get out on the court. . .

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