Okay, I admit it, I’ve been cheating on tennis with swimming and gymnastics. Variety is the spice of life and Ryan Lochte. . .well, he’s pretty tasty stuff.
But today I got in the tennis swing of things with Roger Federer vs. John Isner, watching the gentlemen fight it out on the Wimbledon lawns for a place in the semifinals, and thus, the chance to appear on the medal platform. The match, which Roger won in two tight sets, proved to myself that I’m just not a nationalist when it comes to tennis. I adore John Isner and am as red blooded – okay, maybe more like purplish – as the next American gal, but of course I’m cheering for the Maestro from Basel instead of the Georgia Bulldog. It’s part of the charm and greatness of the game that tennis fans from all over love players from all over, be it Tandil, Argentina, the hometown of Roger’s next opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, or Siberia, where Maria Sharapova spent a formative year or two before moving on to the sunny climes of Florida.
I will be rooting, and hard, for the American woman left in the ladies draw, as Serena trounced Caroline Wozniacki 6-0, 6-3 today to book her spot vs. Victoria Azarenka. Maria the Siberian will play Maria the Muscovite in the other semifinal, Kirilenko qualifying as the surprise semifinalist, though one whose form hints at great things a la Fernado Gonzalez ca. 2004: right place, right time, right mindset, right inspiration. The Olympics is different.
But oh my goodness, wouldn’t a Serena vs. Sharapova gold medal match be a treat?
I think the upcoming semifinal match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic is set to be an Olympic classic, as the proud Serbian takes on the homegrown hero in front of a fresh-to-Wimbledon crowd that is bound to scream themselves hoarse in support of Great Britain. To add to the intrigue, Murray and Nole have never met on grass in any of their previous thirteen meetings.
And if you’re still feeling a little cynical about the whole tennis in the Olympics thing, check out the love these top dogs give to the humble Bronze medal:
Roger Federer in Swiss German (via rene stauffer@staffsky): “2000 in Sydney i was almost glad i did not win a medal. Bronze did not mean anything to me. But that has changed.”
Bob Bryan: That would be awesome (to win gold). We are very proud of the bronze medal we won in Beijing, that’s the first thing anyone looks at in our trophy case and grabs. To upgrade that to something a little more shiny would be awesome, we’re in position, we want to take one at a time, we gotta win the next match or we are not going to have a shot at it, but it’s been our goal all year.
The doubles teams are also in the medals stage, with Americans coming on strong. On the men’s side, the Bryan Brothers are psyched to have another chance to go for the gold for the first time – and it must be nice not to have a Roger or Rafa anchored team to worry about. (Defending gold medalists Roger and Stan lost earlier in the week to the Israeli team of Erlich and Ram.) This time around, the all-American twins get Benneteau/Gasquet in the semis and, should they be victorious, will play for the gold against the winners of Ferrer/Lopez vs. Llodra/Tsonga – now that’s an amazing doubles semifinal!
On the ladies side, we have the exciting possibility of an all-American gold medal match should Huber/Raymond get past Hlavackova/Hradecka of the Czech Republic and the Williams sisters beat out Kirlienko/Petrova.
So go USA! Go Serena! Go Bryans! And yes, go Roger! Most of all, go tennis fans! We have a lot of great matches to watch.