I watched this unfold on the television this afternoon; it was completely awesome, and I am folding all previous sports-related posts under the newly-created Sports tag specifically for the purpose of including this one.
I always feel bad for Andy Roddick; imagine devoting your entire life and training relentlessly almost every waking moment to be the absolute best at something, then being very briefly recognized as number one before being spending the bulk of your career as third best or lower because the people above you are modern day gods. Well, that's Andy Roddick -- he started strong but he's been slipping ever since, and the people in front of him are practically bulletproof.
Roger Federer lives solely to upstage the history of men's tennis to date, and Rafael Nadal is so indestructible on clay courts that they may as well nickname him the Juggernaut; they'll probably be the World Numbers One and Two until one of them gets seriously injured, retires, or just dies right on the court.
Also in front of Roddick are Novik Dokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and David Ferrer. Dokovic is the biggest feel-good Yugoslavia success story since Josip Tito told Stalin to stuff it; Davydenko spends his time nowadays having millions of suspicious dollars bet on his undercard matches and getting chewed out by the ATP for not even trying any more; and Ferrer is a stylish Spanish midget who rocks Juventud Guererra's old Never Surrender gimmick.
By comparison to the above players, Andy Roddick is just some guy with a wacky sense of humour who never wins anything. Now there's a cause I can get behind!
Anyway. Exposition aside. On a whim I tuned in this afternoon to the coverage of the 2007 Australian Open and sure enough there was Roddick, a couple of games away from beating the unseeded German Michael Berrer. (It was in the twenty-fifth game -- at 6-2, 6-2, 5-3 -- if you have the opportunity to go back and watch it.) It was Berrer's ball, and he knocked a perfectly normal serve across to Roddick; Roddick watched it patiently, stood in place as he got set to return it, and then completely missed it. He didn't even make contact with the thing.
Roddick made this hilarious 'dawwwww' expression then covered his face with his free hand and began fumbling around with the tennis racket in front of him, like Mr. Magoo except actually funny.
That's when the coverage cut to bonafide mens tennis living legend Jimmy Connors in the stands; Connors, as you may know, is Roddick's current coach. They got a good close-up shot of Jimmy Connors -- bless his heart, he looks like he could drink a whole case of wine and backhand something fifty yards just for old times' sake -- and Jimmy Connors had his face in his hands laughing helplessly.
What does Roddick do to bounce back? The very next rally, he decided 'fuck it' and just launched the ball thirty feet into the air with a hilarious Mario Tennis backhand lob -- then walked casually to the middle of the baseline. Berrer, apparently combating Mario Tennis with Mario Tennis, leapt into the air and full-power smash-returned that bad boy as hard as he could; Roddick stood in place, flicked his racket and put the ball out of Berrer's reach with a perfect tiny drop shot.
That's when they cut to Jimmy Connors again. And Jimmy Connors was almost crying by this point, having not stopped laughing since Roddick missed the serve.
"Jimmy's got the giggles," one of the commentators deadpanned.
As if deciding this was going to be his strategy from now on, Roddick went on to have three lob winners in that game alone; he dropped the ensuing deuce and won the match in the next game. The commentary team made sure to point out what a miserable hell the remainder of the match must have been for Michael Berrer -- because Jimmy Connors was sitting on his side of the court. And every time Berrer would miss a return, especially the lob shots, Berrer would look to his left and see undisputed tennis legend Jimmy Connors laughing uncontrollably at his continued failure.
Ah, tennis! So civilized, yet so basely entertaining.
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