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Saturday, September 09, 2006


And generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked these courts in flesh, flash and blood…..

The bald eagle rides away on his Rosinante into the distant dusk, secure in the knowledge that his place in the hearts and minds of tennis-crazy brethren and then some is impregnable. The spirit was willing, but the will was not spirited and truth be said, a thirty six year old on creaking knees, an intransigent back and weary hands could not have done much more. Still, Benjamin Becker…..

If my sporting favourites endure, as they have in most disciplines –Cricket, finally ending on a warm Sydney afternoon after some nineteen summers, the first six spent convincing an understandably disbelieving world that the kid was the goods; Football, happily renewed albeit in a different role this World Cup; Table Tennis, that a spiky-haired Swede was the best over two decades despite losing all the time, and so on.
In contrast, it does appear that those I despise do somehow get accorded the opportunity to round the bend in my capricious affections, the foremost example being one who heartwarmingly and damningly will play yet another Grand Slam final today.

And the lycra-clad renegade punk of yore has indeed turned the corner, and while he may never quite make the grade as a favourite, even beating the rains of hostility and contempt to the sanctuary of equivocation is a huge step. This would be perhaps be attributed largely to his tennis rather than his blow hot-blow cold whimsies off court, where his transition and sustained self reinvention from a youth icon to a marquee to an epitome of familial attachment is credible, if implausible. And most of all, my implicit faith in the judgement of a sporting fraternity which likes many but loves only a very select few

I will continue to quibble about his subnormal IQ, a beatific indifference to his own impact on the game, a discernible remoteness with the Davis Cup ( despite a nifty record !), the needless introduction of schedule shenanigans and power demonstrations over officials among others. And yes, of the eight biggies he won, four were at the “runt of the Slam litter” and history may not record Arnaud Clement, Andrei Medvedev, Todd Martin ( now there’s an American I liked !)Rainer Schuttler as worthies of any merit whatsoever.

So we close with what may well be his most eloquent ( if I ignore “ Coup, did you say “coup”. No. I don’t what that means. How do you spell that ?” )

“ “The scoreboard says I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. Over the last 21 years I have found loyalty; you have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I have found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I have found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams; dreams I could never have reached without you. Over the the last 21 years I have found you and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life….. “ "

PS—What’s with the commentary ? Taylor Dent is like Winnie the Pooh with a mike
“ Wow, three amazing shots, a serve, a return and a winner …” . D-uh !!

Some hastily wiped tears at my favourite team losing in the quarters to Zvonareva & Dechy. The giggles are missing, and I fear the worst…

Nadal redeemed himself with a most candid interview after losing to Youzhny, and I wish the Fed learns from that.

Damm is in two finals, hope he wins both.


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