My Tennis fascination started when I was 15. We were asked to pick a sport & make a scrapbook on it for a class project. Cricket got taken instantly, not that I cared much for it then, but I didn't know what else to do. Mom suggested that I look at Tennis as an option. So I browsed through magazine after magazine, article after article, cut out picture after picture & by the time my scrapbook was finished, I was a die-hard Tennis fan.
My initial favourite was Ivan Lendl, the # 1 player at that time. And next to him I liked rising young star Andre Agassi best! When Lendl retired, Agassi took his place as my firm favourite.
It wasn't only Agassi's frosted hair & good looks, pop-idol persona that made one his fan. It was his exciting brand of tennis, and the "appetite he generated for combat" that made fans flock to watch him play!
His initial career was a bit of a disappointment, but by the time his body gave up on him, he had won 8 Grand Slam Titles, a Career Grand Slam, and an Olympic Gold Medal, and earned his place among the Tennis Greats. That he did so in an era dominated by Sampras is commendable. (If it wasn't for Pete Sampras, Andre would've had the Grand Slam record.) That he did so at an age that most players retired was even more amazing! The man ate, breathed & lived Tennis!
He left an indelilable impression not only on fans, but also on the tennis stars of today.
When I watch Tsonga play or Nadal play, I'm reminded of Agassi.
The blistering groundstrokes, the shots that kiss the lines, the angles, the passing shots, the confidence-crushing forehand winners, all remind me of Agassi!
And I'm not the only one who says it. I'm so glad that what I thought is corroborated by Michael Stich.
And this year's Aussie Open semi-finalist knocked out last year's finalist Tsonga (who last year knocked out this year's eventual winner Nadal!), Verdasco, who grew up idolising Andre, sought his advice & reaped the benefits!
Nadal is like a newer, improved, left-handed version of Agassi. A much stronger serve, Agassi's groundstrokes & passing shots, Chang's legs & his very own mental toughness! I'm an out an out Federer fan, but I will grudgingly admit that Rafa has earned the title of the best tennis player in the World at the moment. He dominates Roger's game & he dominates his mind. Roger is at sea against Rafa. Not that King Roger will not find a way to beat Rafa. I believe he soon will, but it is a tribute to Rafael Nadal that he has pushed Roger Federer where no man even thought possible! It is only fitting that Rafa's greatness is acknowledged on account of his domination of Roger.
As Rafa himself said, Roger will get his 14 Grand Slams, possibly more as others say. It may not have happened at the Aussie Open, but there are 3 more Slams to go. Rafael will of course VAMOS for the Grand Slam 2009 & while it is a superhuman task to achieve, if there is one guy in recent Tennis memory who realistically stands a chance of doing it, it is Nadal! And at 22, with 6 Grand Slam titles already, there's no knowing what number he might end up with!!!
That Roger Federer is the Greatest ever will only be in dispute for a few more years at best. He will settle that with his 15th Grand Slam title. Then we'll start looking at Nadal's expanding trophy shelf. Very exciting times for men's Tennis! It could be even more exciting if 2 guys who have the game to dominate these 2 could get their acts together, but it seems unlikely that they will ever have the mental edge that these two possess. I'm talking about the unbeatable brand of Tennis that Marat Safin & Jo-Wilifried Tsonga are capable of playing!
Interesting times for Indian Tennis too! Sania Mirza wins her first Grand Slam title-tte. GREAT show from her & Bhupati! Now to see how she translates the confidence into Singles victories!
And Yuki Bhamri! Yet another Junior Grand Slam win! Boy to watch out for!
Interesting times indeed!
Observation & Question:
When Marcos Baghdatis plays at the Aussie Open, throngs of Australian fans of Greek & Cypriot origin cheer for him, wave flags of his country.
When Nadal plays, Aussies of Spanish origin wave Spanish flags. Ditto for Fedex. Swiss face paint & flags!
Thankfully no ball-tokre types live in Australia!
My Original Tennis Joke:
When Serena Williams plays at the net, her butt is still at the baseline! THAT's called Court Coverage! ;-D