Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Legs to Stand On

Growing up, I regularly attended high school basketball games. My four older siblings all played the winter sport, and it was a great distraction from the frighteningly cold winter weather in Montana. My sisters' teams were consistently bad - real bad. Year after year I would watch them have losing seasons, winning just a handful of games in each. I wondered what the problem was: the coaching? The players? The game plans?

As I got older and started to play basketball myself, I began to see that a good team took all of the aforementioned ingredients. You couldn't have a great team without good players, a knowledgeable coach and a solid game plan - it all had to come together at once. Great teams just didn't happen, they had to be carefully orchestrated. But above anything else, the talent had to be there. Talent is the legs that greatness stands on.

As the Tremendous Two has grown into the Ferocious Four, it's safe to say that the ATP has legs to stand on for the next few years - four pairs of sturdy, terribly talented legs.

(Photo by billybuck via flickr.)

Watching Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (as they're ranked) each have their own, separate bursts of greatness this year has been nothing short of spectacular. These four men have captured my attention in a way like never before, and I've become interested in men's tennis on a genuine, true-fan level. I'm guessing that they - and I - will be sticking around for a while.

The frightening thing is that there are three more pairs of talented legs - Juan Martin del Potro, Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - that are threatening to turn the Ferocious Four into the Scintillating Seven. These are all gentlemen who have shown flashes of their own brilliance this season (throughout the calendar year), and a group that the tour can look to in week two of Grand Slams not as darkhorses or outsiders, but actually as legitimate heavy weights who just haven't had their breakthrough yet.

Last week, I wrote about how increasingly interesting the men's tour was becoming, and how the women's tour was lacking any true rivalries or distinction. The thing is, even if the women's tour was bursting with talent and attracting me with new and different stars, it would take nothing away from the legitimacy of what a great group of men sit atop the ATP rankings.

For tennis to be interesting on both sides is nearly impossible. Very often, in fact, it's difficult for even one tour to be compelling. But we are ending a year on the ATP that showed us what brilliance can do when it's pitted again other brilliance, and that bodes well for 2009, even if their is off-court drama.

You can ask for well-rounded, attractive champions, but it's not often that you get a group of truly talented, just-short-of-spectacular champions all at once. Now that's a talent any season can build on.

1 comment:

clin said...

Where are the video blogs, Nick?

Right now, I'm still trying to figure out how del Potro will do. Gilles Simon has been more consistent so far, but del Potro appears to have more weapons. I think Simon is ahead of him now.

I guess most people feel, despite being highly ranked, that Davydenko can't compete. It's hard to think of this guy knocking at the top of the rankings, but then he did reach the Masters final.

I'm upset Tennis Channel couldn't secure rights to the Masters, or at least ESPN. The major networks appear unwilling to cover the Masters, which they used to do back when it was in Madison Square Garden.

Get to making a new video entry!