Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fighters. History. Tennis.

There were a lot of matches yesterday. Wozniacki won. Wawrinka won. Federer won. Petkovic won.

But it was really only about one match.

Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsvoa played an instant classic. It was somehow more instant than an instant classic - it was a classic while it was still being played. Three long sets - well, two normal sets and an epic. The longest women's Grand Slam match ever, clocking in at four hours and forty-four minutes. A testament to these two wonderful players and to two fighting spirits.

There is a lot to be said for people who simply refuse to lose.

Schiavone, in the end, came away the victor... but even though Kuznetsova lost, this match was a wonderful one for her. It's like Isner/Mahut - any victory in a match this long is Pyrrhic. The W next to one's name becomes inconsequential, even though it's the prize being fought over. A match like this transcends a tournament. A match like this is a match for history.

Not that that would be particularly easy for either player to come to terms with right at this second. Frankie must be elated (and exhausted). Sveta must be crushed (and also exhausted). But later on, when they look back at this tournament, the wins before this one will not be what is remembered. It will be this match - a match that was more than a victory, much more than a loss. A match that was a celebration of tennis.

Unless Frankie goes on and wins the tournament. That memory might be a little sweeter.

Much as I would like Frankie to go on and win the tournament, I think that this match will do to her exactly what it did to Isner, and she will go into her next match super-tired. I know five-odd hours is not quite eleven hours, but it's hours enough. However, if she does pull out the win over Wozniacki, I will CHEER MY FREAKING LUNGS OUT. Because someone who played in a match like that deserves to win a(nother) Slam.

And the same goes for you, Sveta. You're not going to win Australian Open 2011, but there are three other Slams this year. May one of them be yours.

Brief sidebar - Wawrinka played TERRIFYINGLY well against Roddick. When did he suddenly get so awesome? As a Federer fan, I am officially scared. Glad that his friend Stanley has come through, but SCARED.

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