This week, Wimbledon is going strong. And if you are familiar with tennis, you know that Roger Federer, the greatest player of all time, just went down in the quarter-finals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It's sad seeing a great player such as Federer, succumbing to "old age" .
|A disappointed Roger Federer|
Once a tennis player approaches 30, they become vulnerable to the younger, stronger players between 20 - 25. Both Venus and Serena Williams have already gone down this year at Wimbledon. Venus is now 31 and Serena will be 30 in September.
I've heard a few explanations as to why this is so. Since the days of Pete Sempras, tennis has become increasingly more punishing. The racquets have become significantly lighter, allowing players to swing them with higher speed, thus making the ball travel much faster. With the lighter weight, however, the impact of the hit is absorbed into the joints, muscles and bones of the player. And as many times as a player is required to hit, the repeated stress is bound to take its toll. Also, with the increased ball speed, the athlete is required of necessity to be quicker, more agile, more active on the court. It requires a great deal of flexibility, endurance and speed to play and defend at championship level.
But watching a finals match at any of the National Tennis events, be it US Open, French Open, Wimbledon, or Australian Open, is beautiful to behold. It is not only a match between the best technical player, but it is literally a match for the players with the strongest psyche. For example, sometimes players intentionally try to get into another player's head. I'm still trying to figure out if Rafael Nadal had an injury to his foot severe enough to delay the game for over 10 minutes while he consulted with a trainer and subsequently had his foot wrapped. He was at a clear disadvantage to Juan Martin Del Potro during the 4th round match at Wimbledon yesterday and Del Potro was on a roll, ready to take advantage of it. But the 10-minute wait did something to him. He was clearly irritated at having to wait and the momentum shifted soon after. Nadal is known for taking his sweet time at serving, often getting warned for taking too much time. Del Potro ended up losing yesterday and Nadal is going on to the semi-finals. So who was the stronger player? There is no doubt that Nadal beat Del Potro not just with skill, but he stayed focused and Del Potro got rattled.
|Rafael Nadal, the other greatest tennis player|
Update: It turns out that yes, indeed, Rafael does have a foot injury. He has actually had it numbed for the rest of the tournament and has opted to deal with it after the play is finished. Good luck Rafa!