It could have happened last year. When Julien Benneteau held a 2-0 lead in the third round at Wimbledon against Roger Federer, with Rafael Nadal having been eliminated in a thriller by Lukas Rosol, the possibility of a second week at a Wimbledon without Federer AND Nadal looked very plausible. Obviously, it didn’t happen because Federer went on to win Wimbledon 2012.
In 2013, though, that dreaded scenario has materialized. And this time rather than being taut thrillers, two relatively tame submissions from the champions who in 2008 played one of the greatest finals of all time in any sport. It was like watching Sholay and seeing Jai and Veeru die before even the second song, let alone the interval.
Tumultuous the turn of events may have been, what it really has brought out is also our rush to judge. Over eager as always to make facts fit their grandiose yet bland narratives, the media seems to have gone on a tear against Nadal (claiming his clay legs didn’t work on grass; when, clearly he was physically struggling in the match v Darcis) and Fed (The Times Of India’s lead sports story had them bringing up Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ lyrics ‘This is the end…’).
It is easy to pitch it that way; easier to make the current statistics fit that pitch but for me as a tennis fan who is rational and emotional in equal parts, impossible to digest. Dwell on the poignancy of the twin exits all you want, but I don’t see where the question of their time being ‘over’ at Wimbledon comes from. This post is not a defensive rant from a fan. It is just an acknowledgement of the irritation one feels at the romance being sucked away from sports in general phrase by lazy explanatory phrase from the media.
P.S. As if to almost underline the point, a friend shared this today morning.