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Djokovic and Federer, A Beautiful Rivalry

Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer at the US Open last Sunday which I was hoping to be a more competitive match.  The Djokovic victory was under the media radar due to the NFL holding court on opening weekend.  Djokovic winning was a big deal as much as Roger Federer making it to the finals.  Then you have the Serena saga playing out during the majority of the tournament which was media circus.   Djokovic beat Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 giving him three Grand Slam titles this year only losing to Stan Wawrinka in the finals of the French Open.  Read More →

Sibling Rivalry with Tennis Rackets

Tuesday gave us another look at the long running sibling rivalry between Serena and Venus Williams.  This doesn’t appear to be much of a rivalry because Serena is owning her sister on the court and also it appears to be too huggy-kissy to be a true rivalry anymore.  The Venus match was no fly trap (bad pun) for Serena,  she won in three sets and moved on to her quest to do a bit of history.  She faces a big test moving forward into the semi’s to play Roberta Vinci, whom she has never beaten.    

A true sibling rivalry needs a little more at stake and perhaps a little more jealousy to make it a true rivalry.  The Williams girls appear to be like best buds or BBF’s to be very compelling.  I think when they were younger and both were more at equal ability this rivalry was more potent.   At 35, Venus Williams is not going to beat her sister any time soon until they retire and are playing on the celebrity retiree charitable event circuit. 

Those of you with siblings all know what a good competition is like between your brothers and sisters. You may have multiple siblings and love them all but there is that one sibling that brings out the extra fire in your belly.  It doesn’t even have to be sports related that heats up the rivalry, it could be a game of Monopoly, tiddlywinks or boyfriends and girlfriends.  It is probably more prevalent when the ages are closer because you have to blaze the same trail for most of your youth.  I had three older brothers and one sister that at times had squabbles with,  but could only truly fought my closest in age brother.  The other two where  too big and I got my ears boxed in.  

I wonder how Peyton and Eli Manning did as they were growing up because they look like a couple of guys that probably duked it out.  It is so weird to get into a brawl with your brother.  You are not fighting another kid or bully but it is the guy that is stealing your loose change or who you think is cheating at cards.  You don’t want to punch for the face but perhaps a submission hold or head lock is going to get them to submit.  

Maybe deep down the Williams sisters are sick of each of others drama, but probably not.  As you get older you either grow closer together or in some sad cases, never engage with them often, maybe only at holidays.  I am thinking that the siblings that were your most heated rivals will be your closet ally and we be your bud to the end.

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Is Serena Williams the Best Woman Athlete of All Time?

I don’t know why this needs an answer but it raises the discussion for what is the criteria for such a title?  I pondered this question and racked my memory to find the candidates, and I believe that Serena Williams should be considered.   She certainly has won enough hardware and awards to fill up a museum wing, but what else?

With the upcoming US Open at the end of August, Williams enters as the Number one player in the world and looking to win her fourth Grand Slam Event this year and fifth in a row.  This is unchartered ground for women’s tennis, not even Steffi Graff pulled this off.

What makes this run of dominance incredible, is the fact that she is 33 years old.  No other woman tennis player has won as much as she has after the age of thirty, make that any man as well.  She is closing in on the record for most Grand Slam victories, she currently has 21, and Graff has 24.  She probably has that goal in site before she calls it quits.

So does this warrant her as the best women’s athlete of all time?  Let’s break this down a little.  Williams is currently dominating at the age of 33 in a large international field of great women players.  She is the best in her sport.  Her playing style is a power game, which is exemplified in her serve where she dominates her opponents.  She is incredibly agile and quick for a woman of her size, she is 5’ 9”, and adorning an incredible muscular physique.   Williams has battled through countless  injuries and plays impaired with unknown ailments and still perseveres, and wins.

You might be able to find a more complete athlete, like an Olympian decathlete or a WNBA player but have they dominated for such a long time?  The only other woman athletes I can think of are; Kerri Walsh, the volleyball star, Babe Dickerson, the multi-sport star of the thirties, or Jackie Joyner Kersey, the great track star.  When people try to break down athletic qualities, the argument is convoluted with criteria, but I still come back to skill level, overall physical dominance, resiliency and accomplishments.  Serena fills the bill for me, right here, right now in the world of women’s sports.

Photo – Getty Images


Men’s Wimbledon Showdown

When the number 1 seed, Novic Djokovic, faced off against, the number 2 seed, Roger Federer then you knew you had to watch this spectacle.  I usually don’t miss the Wimbledon finals but honestly there have been years when you didn’t want to invest five hours to watch Roger Federer destroy whoever he was playing  in the finals, (poor Andy Roddick).  Seeing the accession of Federer to the finals is good for this event.

The first set went to Djokovic playing his usual power game but Federer with using his steady ground strokes held in there. The two traded blows but Djokovic eventually took the set to 7-6 margin to an entertained capacity Wimbledon crowd.   Federer fell behind in the second set and this was starting to look like a short day for him.  Federer being down 3-6 was able to claw back to 6 -6.  The two traded volleys and ferocious serves to 7-7, but Federer finally caught him and beat to him to 10, after a 15 minute battle.

The beginning of the third set still played like a chess match with Federer still able to make great sideline volleys and slicing with precision.   In the third game Djokovic was able to break Federer’s serve which turned to be a major turning point in the match.  Soon after the rain clouds creeped in and the tarp was stretched over the court.   The short break appeared to be a benefit to Djokovic who came out able to handle anything that Federer threw at him.   Federer stopped converting as many aces and the Djokovic became clinical with great shot making.

More of the same ensued in the fourth set with Djokovic again breaking Federer’s serve.  Djokovic was getting appreciative responses from an always pro –Federer crowd, as he has earned it.  The final set going 6-3 to Mr. Djokovic who repeated against Federer and won his third overall Wimbledon.   Even though, Djokovic won, Federer didn’t play bad himself, always with graciousness and respect for his opponents.  Djokovic as well gave Federer his props for being the great elder statesmen for tennis.

Djokovic is at the height of his game and looks to be on a run for a few more years.  With his size, strength and power, he reminds me of Ivan Lendl but with just more precision and skill.  This was his ninth overall Major victory putting him behind Nadal and Federer.  He also just missed winning the French Open so by the time he hangs up his racket, he will be enshrined as one of the best.

Photo – Adrian Demis – AFP