Australia Day @ The Australian Open

Well it’s that time of the year again – when every Australian births a desire to be a pro tennis player…and I am no exception.

The Australian Open is one of the best tournaments in the world. Don’t believe me? Ask the players.

However, experience tells me my shining WTP star has already started waning – it’s semi-finals time – and let’s be honest, I much prefer watching in this heat!

Besides, I’ve already got what I came for, the thrill of watching pro athletes perform at their best and a little either side of it.

As Rafael Nadal fell to countryman Ferrer last night, we were reminded of why we love sport. We love the drama of it. The highs and the lows.

Now the commentators do a great job of calling the game (Well done Jim, Bruce, Todd and Stubbsey) and hypothesising on the thoughts and feelings of the players, but I’d stake my life on the fact that Nadal wasn’t thinking ‘Oh no, I won’t get the silverware’, but rather ‘If I keep playing, will it tear?’, ‘I can’t get power through my serve’, ‘I’ve got 70% bi-lateral stretch’, which is why he adapted his play accordingly and we knew he wasn’t at his winning best.

Nadal knew he was out of the tournament the moment he felt the twinge. He’s a pro. But just as his face and every missed shot proved, that doesn’t stop the heart-break.

It’s us in the stands – the spectators and the media – that think about the ‘Four in a row‘, the prize-money and the wasted chance – not the pro… well, not until he sits down and reality sets in.

Good sport is all emotion – that’s what Henry Jenkins espouses – amongst other things – in his book The WOW Climax: Tracing the emotional impact of popular culture (2007). A thumping read if anyone has the time and inclination.

So while Nadal makes no excuses and his team tend to his wounds, we eagerly await the return of Federer to centre court… Why? Because such is the divide between a tennis enthusiast and a pro.


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