I've always liked William C. Rhoden. He's a thoughtful writer who defies the sound-bite loudmouth culture of American sportswriting. He has never been afraid to take a tough stand on whatever hot button issue comes along to activate the American sportsfan's hypocrisy, racism or whatever boneheaded obsession the country has got on about. I even enjoyed today's column for the New York Times.
But dude, you can't go to watch a Will Smith movie when Nadal is up two sets to love and looking like a runaway winner. That's what he and his family did.
Up to this point, the highlight of a tennis vacation in London had been the extraordinary journey of the Williams sisters, carrying the flag for American tennis — and their meeting for the championship at Centre Court on Saturday. What could beat that? Federer was going for a sixth straight title and Nadal, who had fallen to the champion the previous two years, was simply trying to win Wimbledon for the first time.
What could beat it? Bill, where have you been buddy? Last year's final was a classic and Nadal was playing much better than he had in 2007. Federer was not going to go quietly. Many of us predicted a thriller. Sure, maybe not the greatest match ever, but close observers knew it would be as historic as the all Williams final, even if it was a three-set beat down. Yet he still went to the movie:
We re-emerged an hour and a half later, fully expecting to hear somewhere along the road that Federer had nearly come back but had finally lost. The television at the Goat and Boots had what we thought were highlights. But who won?Mind-boggling to choose Will Smith over Wimbledon, especially when you're live in London. Maybe it was old hat, maybe they'd been there many times before and needed a tourism break. Even sharing a pint at the Goat and Boots has got to beat watching a flick you can see anywhere, anytime. (I'm sure bootlegged copies will be plentiful in Beijing during the Olympics). But hey, this is the equivalent of walking out on your employer-sponsored trip for a day of frivolity on the employer's dime. We all know I would NEVER do a thing like that... :->
Another tavern. More highlights, we thought.
We reached the Hereford Arms, saw the large crowds, heard the whooping, and realized that these were not highlights. This match had become an epic. Nadal was near exhaustion but fighting with a determined verve that had long since won over even the most skeptical fan. A classic. The crowd cheered lustily, and by this point rooting interests had given way to deep respect for two champions. All that remained was to crown a champion, not determine the better man.
Other than that he penned a good article. However, if Rhoden is thinking of turning in his credential for next year, I'll gladly trade him my space at whatever LawyerPallooza is happening then.