Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Age Of Greatness

I think we have to admit it - when it comes to men's tennis, we are living in an age of greatness.
The word 'greatness' is one that tends to get bandied round a lot - it's something I especially notice in Australian sport. We have some really, really good teams, yeah? Our cricket team, for example. I'm no cricket aficiando, but it seems to me that our team has been lauded here as the 'greatest ever' for about fifteen, twenty years now: certainly as long as I can remember. But surely the team has changed almost totally over these years - so how can it make the claim to be the greatest ever?
Team sport and individual sport are different, I know - maybe cricket is a bad example. But I think we may be able to safely say that this era in men's tennis is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, ever.
Why do I make this claim? You have to go straight to the top. No one can contest Roger Federer's claim to be one of the all-time tennis great - if not the greatest of all time. He has an amazing genius for the sport while being an outstanding statesman. But now - I say now, it's been coming for a while - we have the emergence of Rafa Nadal. He's not just some schlep who usurped Federer's position at the top because Roger was having a bum year. He's genuinely an amazing player - and I mean amazing. That's what sparked this rant off, actually - there's an article in DEUCE magazine about Nadal's pursuit of various tennis historical geats and his claim to all-time greatness. And I think we have to realise this. We are spectators in one of the most intriguing, high-level sports rivalries of all time. Even Sampras/Agassi had nothing on Roger/Rafa. We only have to look at the final of Wimbledon to understand the intensity and the high-level of their rivalry. And it's not a rivalry in the antagonistic sense - I get the feeling Roger and Rafa quite like each other, really. They're certainly always very cordial to each other: and, moreover, both are gentlemen. I feel that's part of being a true great - it extends off court as well. And on court - can anyone deny these are two of the most phenomenal players world tennis has ever seen? Rafa is certainly the greatest claycourter of all time. Roger has got a pretty good grip on that Greatest of All Time trophy. We are so privileged.
And, just to bring it down a notch, it really shows up what's going on with women's tennis at present... I don't think anyone would say this is one of the greatest ages for women's tennis ever. The top level is confused at best, and I think a lot of people have felt that those who have reached #1 this year haven't really deserved it. Would anyone say that of Roger or Rafa? I think not. We have too many #1s in men's tennis and too few in women's - and I know which problem I'd prefer!

1 comment:

Krystle Lee said...

I agree with the term greatness being thrown around too often.

I've noticed that you're from Australia. I am too. (Yes, TV coverage is terrible. Good thing I have Fox Sports) I will be attending the AO for the first time next year which is exciting.

Do you want to exchange blog links? My blog is