Saturday, January 28, 2017

What's Up Down Under: Aussie Anomaly?

I gotta go to sleep soon so I can watch the women's final in the middle of the night, my time. But. Let us discuss the time warp we find ourselves in, and let us just appreciate it.
First, the Williams sisters. Sorry, I meant The Williams Sisters. Serena Williams will likely go down as one of the best tennis players in history, and certainly the best woman to ever play the game to date. She's ranked No. 2 in the world, and that's seriously underachieving to her. You could see her getting this far. Her draw was full of potential minefields and she navigated the ones she faced. Her opponent, though? Well, it's been a rough few years. Venus Williams has had to cope with a chronic disease that leads to fatigue and once she figured that out, well, the women's game had come up a bit. She was seeded 13th, and that seemed about right. Except if you were paying attention to Venus toward the end of 2016. Karolina Pliskova almost won the U.S. Open, but she barely managed to get past Venus to do it, which was plenty surprising enough. Also, Venus is 36 years old.
Oh, and is Roger Federer isn't far behind. Venus has been building up toward a result like this. Federer took the last quarter of the season off because of injury. With the exception of a warm-up tournament, he came into this tournament cold. He is seeded 17th (same number of the Slams he's won ...) and handled business, meaning Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka.
And Rafa Nadal. Nadal showed at the Olympics that yes, he still has it. But will the body cooperate? I guess so. I don't know if you saw the semifinal with Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov (who picked a heckuva time to live up to his potential), but Nadal got outhit at times. The ball didn't bounce his way. But when he did at 3-4, 30-love down, was a life lesson. You go for it. You could be tentative -- play not to lose. Or you could step inside the baseline and hit a perfect backhand and leave your opponent flailing.
What does this mean? Is it an anomaly? Who knows. What it is -- to me -- as the real world slowly drifts off its axis, it means that there is one constant, one thing that is true. It means that if you want something, and put yourself in the position to get it, you can get it. You can only control you. The draws fall where they may and the people left standing put themselves in that position. This time, it true. It's the beauty of sport. I'm gonna let Venus take it from here:

No comments: