Closed To The Open
Have you been watching the French Open?
Yes? Good for you. I applaud your constancy as a tennis fan. Because, frankly, between the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Final, and traveling across this land (Wyoming Wednesday, Iowa yesterday, Pittsburgh tonight), I haven’t seen one damn serve nor one damn rally of the thing.
Stan: a man, not The Man
Why have I made no effort to watch any of it? I blame Roger Federer. .
Things were set up nicely back in January. Federer’s dramatic and thrilling victory over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final injected a bolt of electricity into the then-upcoming Grand Slam spring season. Fans were definitely looking forward to the prospect of more clock turn-backs on the clay at Roland Garros.
Alas — the lord (of the court) giveth, and the lord taketh away, too. When Federer decided to bow out of the French in order to concentrate on Wimbledon — he will be playing in London, right? — it really sucked all the air out of the room.
Nadal may yet emerge victorious, and that might serve as some balm for being denied another match-up for (and of) the ages, but it won’t be the same if he doesn’t beat Federer in the process. No disrespect to the Stanimal, but he just doesn’t move the meter like his countryman can. (On the other hand, a bit of a dis to Andy Murray, who never seems convincing even when he wins; and there you are — no fear of that after today.) The mens’ game, which has looked so robust these last several years, is really starting to wear thin — especially if Roger needs to sabbatical between each of his remaining tournament wins (if any).
And no, if/when Simona Halep defeats whichever Eastern European Scrabble-tile set she plays in the final, that won’t exactly come across like fireworks, either.
It’s tough enough to get up on the West Coast for live French Open coverage. To make extra effort for this assemblage of players? In comparison, the empty desert plains of Nevada and Wyoming seemed thrilling.
By the time Wimbledon rolls around, I’ll be camping under the stars in Utah. At this rate, professional tennis will be hard pressed to display a complete set of stars that can compete with the night sky — even if it’s as cloudy as a typical London day.