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Bury My Heart Because Of The Wounded Knees


So it's official: Rafael Nadal will not be able to defend his Wimbledon crown. I suspected this was coming when he lost in straight sets in yesterday's exhibition against Lleyton Hewitt, reporting he was "a step slow."

The real losers here are the tournament and the sport of men's tennis itself.

The beneficiaries will be Andy Murray, the highest remaining seed, and two-time finalist Andy Roddick--both in what would have been Nadal's half of the draw. And of course Roger Federer is more of a favorite than ever: his greatest nemesis in the quest to set the record for Slam singles titles is now out of the picture, just as the Swiss star is on the brink of eclipsing the mark of 14 set by Pete Sampras. But after last year's tremendous showdown between Federer and Nadal--which many are calling the greatest tennis match ever--this has to be a bittersweet development. Even if Roger prevails, taking the title this year without Nadal in the draw would have to be at least a little unsatisfying. What made John McEnroe's first Wimbledon win so sweet was the fact that he vanquished five-time defending champion Bjorn Borg in the championship match a year after their legendary five-set 1980 final. In fact, the Swede's subsequent retirement left McEnroe feeling cheated, according to his autobiography: the rival who forced him to summon his best suddenly disappeared and McEnroe then struggled through much of 1982 and 1983 before redeeming himself in a tremendous 1984 campaign. I can't help but think that Federer--through no fault of his own--is going be dogged by questions about Nadal's absence throughout the fortnight. And should he secure his fifteenth major two weeks from now, there will always those quick to point out he didn't have to go through Nadal to win in Paris or London this year, and thus his accomplishment is not what it might have been.

You know what would be the best thing for tennis? A healthy Nadal beating Federer to win his first U.S. Open title this September. Two players thus achieve "career Grand Slams" within a few months of each other. These guys will have competing arguments for being #1, each claiming two major titles in 2009. The irony of Federer being deemed the Greatest Of All Time would be further complicated by his repeated inability to beat another player in his own time on the big stage. And the golden age of the sport's greatest rivalry will be resumed.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 19, 2009 3:57 PM.

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