Serve and Volley

Serve and Volley

Failing Better

By 1.27.14

Roger Federer played great tennis for a week and a half at Melbourne Park, the venue of the Australian Open, which bills itself as the Grand Slam of Asia and the Pacific. Australia, of course, is a continent in its own right, but it is closely interested in Asian and Pacific affairs. Federer was a feared and loved power here a few years ago — feared by his adversaries, loved by the fans, who appreciate his grace and classical form. He won four championships here, most recently in 2010. The fans still love the beauty of his game and the demeanor of the champion that he carries with him even when he loses.

Given the poor level — by his standards, no one else’s — of his game last year, which knocked him all the way down to number seven in the ATP rankings, it was a victory in itself to make it to the semis.

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Serve and Volley

Top Seeds Fall, the Game Thrives

By 1.23.14

In my youth newspaper writers were taught to avoid “As I said” or “As I wrote,” it is bad form, so I should note right away that if I wrote in this space that I never make predictions, it is because I believe in free choice as well as inexplicable chance, even if there is a higher power: though the argument in theological circles regarding just how much He concerns himself with human affairs rages on. In tennis there certainly are ways of trying to stack the cards to insure a certain outcome, including training, coaching, thinking, and practicing, by no means necessarily in that order.

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Serve and Volley

Up and Down Under

By 1.21.14

It is not correct to generalize and it is not factual that all women who play tennis are divas. You might as well say all male tennis players are egomaniacs. It is demonstrably false. There is much humility in tennis because the sport teaches you that winning depends on you alone and you cannot blame anyone else. Even in doubles it would be viewed as insufferably bad form, especially if your partner made most of the mistakes: maybe they were made because you set him up.

Serena Williams blamed no one but herself for bowing out in the fourth round of the Australian Open last week, snapping a breathtaking winning streak that included wins last year at Roland-Garros, Wimbledon, and Flushing Meadows, three of the four great tournaments. Everyone in the tennis world with a microphone or a typewriter said she was bound to win at Melbourne Park, giving her a Serena Slam, which is what tennis commentators have taken to calling four in a row but not in the same calendar year.

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Serve and Volley

Game Set Match

By 9.13.13

It had to end, but our man, suffering from withdrawal symptoms, offers one last take on this year’s U.S. Open as well as idle musings on the fate of nations.
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Serve and Volley

Queens and Kings

By 9.10.13

Serena Williams keeps her crown and Rafa Nadal triumphs at Flushing Meadows.
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Czech and Mate

By 9.9.13

Czech prodigies Hradecka and Hlavackova top Australian phenoms Dellacqua and Barty.
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Gasquet the Great

By 9.5.13

Final eight at the U.S. Open brings out the winning spirit.
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Serve and Volley

Open Hopes

By 9.3.13

The U.S. Open’s first weekend is where hopes are dashed and spring back to life.
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