Posts Tagged ‘tennis

19
May
09

Glad Steffi Graf is retired

TENNIS-ENG-WIMBLEDON-CENTRE-COURTThose legs! / Photo from AFP

Back when she was an active player, Steffi Graf was the only female tennis player whose matches I watched on tv. Since she retired in 1999, women’s tennis has lost its appeal to me.

I watched her last match, the Wimbledon finals in 1999, in which she lost to Lindsey Davenport, 6-4 7-5.

After 10 years, I watched her play again last Sunday. I would have missed it had I not been alerted by another Graf fan.

Steffi Graf, playing in two exhibition matches at the grand opening or closing of the retractable roof at the center court of the All England Club, was the same Steffi Graf I last saw play. Well, not exactly the same. She was laughing and smiling this time, a far cry from her stolid demeanor she put on during competitions when she was still in the women’s circuit.

Turning 40 next month, Steffi Graf epitomizes fitness and health. She doesn’t look a pound heavier than she was in 1999 despite having given birth to two children. Her long, toned legs–which have carried her to 22 Grand Slam titles–have always been a source of envy for me and my female friends.

Like what happened in the past whenever I watched her play, I sighed in resignation to the fact that I can never have legs like hers unless I amputate mine and wear prostheses molded like her legs. But even if I did this, I would have to cut my arms as well because they would now be disproportionate to my new legs. Then I would have to wear arm prostheses molded like Graf’s. But even if I now had arms and legs like Steffi’s, I would need to pare my torso, which in its present condition, is not anywhere like Graf’s.

Oh, just kill me.

I’m glad Steffi Graf has retired.

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18
Nov
08

Honoring mangroves & planting Federer

I’m glad the ATP season is over and I can now commit my time to people other than RF.

RF didn’t get back his top rank and he failed to defend his Shanghai Masters title, but he closed the year with an extraordinary and back-inconvenienced three-setter against Andy Murray.

His loss to Murray at the Shanghai Masters didn’t rankle as much as his loss to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon did because Murray eventually lost to Nikolay Davydenko in the semis.

This time, I vented my disappointment by planting mangroves in Olango Island the next day. And so, unknown to my host, a mangrove in Olango is being grown in honor of Roger Federer. Hah! Not even Mirka has ever done that for RF.

TENNIS-ATP-MASTERS-CHN

The tennis masters (Photo from AFP)

I enjoyed the Shanghai Masters because it gathered some of the more goodlooking players and the best players in the ATP. It was unfortunate that Nadal, who qualifies in both categories, missed out on this year’s Masters Cup due to tendinitis.

Had Nadal played, the dynamics of the matches would have been different. Had he and RF faced off again, it would have been torture for me. A win or loss by RF in this match would probably send me planting mangroves in the entire Olango island and I would never be able to stand up straight again and then I would send RF a picture of me with my curved back along with a note: “This is what I have become because of you. Lovelots.”

01
Oct
08

The way they wore

Catherine Cox’s “Lingerie a Lexicon of Style”

I didn’t know Bjorn Borg designed underwear until I read “Lingerie A Lexicon of Style,” a hardbound book that waited for my time and interest in the bottom shelf for six years.

Borg’s designs (photo below) have been described in Catherine Cox’s book, copyright 2000, as “androgynous underwear, which looks equally at home on both male and female bodies.” I don’t know if tennis players wear them but the panties and tank look functional and comfortable.

These would just be the kind sportswomen of the early 20th century would have worn had their restrictive society allowed them to. They had to dress, look and act like ladies even while engaged in sports because competitive sports for women wasn’t deemed respectable.

Back then, female cyclists wore loose-fitting bloomers as outer garments, to the shock and consternation of the public. To the men especially, the female cyclists looked like they were cycling in their panties.

I’m glad those men are long dead because I can imagine the uproar they would cause if they saw what today’s triathletes and volleybelles wear. On second thought, maybe they wouldn’t. They’d soon find out that female athletes look better with less clothes on.

Before World War I, women played Wimbledon tennis in steel-boned corset. Today, the players exercise modesty by wearing tennis panties that sit below the folds of their butt, pleasantly distracting the concentration of ball boys, line umpires, cameramen, male spectators and male sports editors.

It wasn’t until 1938 when nylon was invented that underwear and sportswear started to become practical. Then Lycra came in 1950 and revolutionized sportswear. Athletes now began wearing underwear or sportswear that clung snug to their bodies.

I am thankful to Hinda Miller for inventing the sports bra. A runner, Miller had experienced the physical restrictions of ordinary bras, padded or underwired, and created a pair that was functional and comfortable. In 1977, the first sports bra was worn.

The sports bra is a necessity to women with an active or healthy lifestyle. But then, men, except probably Bjorn Borg, prefer women to be bra-less.

16
Sep
08

A friend’s thoughts on Rafa, Novak

Djokovic: A victory pose that’s open to interpretations

A friend watches men’s tennis for the sole reason of imagining Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic chasing and hitting the ball NAKED.

When Roger Federer lost in Roland Garros, my friend sent me his sympathies but said he rooted for Nadal for the butt and biceps. When RF lost in Wimbledon, my friend again sent me his sympathies and this time aware of my devastation, said he found RF a compleat player, unlike the other tennis great Pete Sampras.

My friend predicates his post-match text messages to me on RF’s performance and tucks a post script about Nadal’s physical magnetism and oh-god-that-butt. After the 2008 US Open, he has included “that young Serb” in his roster of dream boys.

“I’d like to see Nadal posing for Playgirl,” my friend tells me like I have the power and influence to let this happen. He says that if he has to offer eggs to the Carmelite sisters to make this come true, he will. Whether such supplication merits attention is a test of my friend’s faith and of the nuns’ temperance.

Nadal: Butt and biceps

I remember one tennis player who has posed unclad.

Carlos Moya has posed nude for a Tag Heuer magazine but his Herb Ritts pictures are nowhere near Playgirl material. Not that I know what constitutes Playgirl material. (I swear I don’t.)

I confess that I catch my breath and call God when I see the male players take off their shirts to change (Patrick Rafter is my all-time favorite shirt-changer) but I don’t harbor thoughts of seeing them naked.

Carlos Moya in Tag Heuer’s Form

My friend gleefully pictures Nadal unclothed, unkempt and dripping with sweat and striking Playgirl poses. As for the young Serb Djokovic, an image of a pendulous run to the net and baselines is now embossed in my friend’s salacious mind.

The descriptions of the male poses that titillate my friend’s prurient imagination can be summed up as “Whaaat?!!”

But hey, Nadal and Novak posing for Playgirl? Bert, borrow your copy.

Photos from usopen.org

10
Sep
08

Sleep-deprived for Federer

The past two weeks had deprived me of sleep.

I had my body clock synchronized with the match schedules of the US Open men’s singles. I slept at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. only to wake up at 7 a.m. or 9 a.m. and return to sleep at 11.

On the eve of Roger Federer’s championship match, I was jittery. At 12:30 a.m., I caught up with the bebehs at Mooon Cafe and had a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka Ice on an empty stomach and began to feel nervous for RF but knew better than to tell the bebehs this because they don’t know who Federer is. At 2 a.m., I bade everyone good night and said I had to wake up at 5 but left out the reason, which was to watch the Federer-Murray match.

What woke me up was not the alarm set at 5 a.m. but the loud knocks on my door that came at 6:20. It was my dad, excitedly telling me that someone was down two sets to love. I heard dogs humping in my head and in my chest. I scrambled down the stairs, slipper-less.

Federer was up 6-2 7-5 against Andy Murray! I caught the third set but RF just breezed through it, 6-2.

Andy Murray with the champion(Photo from usopen.org)

Oya! What a beautiful, glorious morning! The dogs had stopped humping.

Cupping an ear, I turned to a Nadal fan. “Dad, do you hear that? Do you hear the applause for Federer? Nadal will never get that applause at the US Open because it’s written in the stars that Nadal will never win the US Open, no?”

I went back to sleep at 7:45, woke up at 10 and went to a sauna where I thought about how Federer vindicated himself from the critics, about the $95-RF shirt and cap that I promised myself I would buy if he won this US Open, about loving him till the end of time, about finally putting my life back in order.

At 2 p.m., the dogs came humping back in my head. Advil put the dogs and me to sleep. I woke up at 7:15 p.m. with a fever, called for the hilot, watched the replay of the match at 9 p.m. and finally had a long, dreamless sleep.

05
Sep
08

A nervous slam

These Grand Slams, particularly the 2008 US Open, will send me to my early demise.

The draws leading to the semifinals have been unpredictable. I’ve been watching the men’s singles matches–from the first rounds to the quarterfinal rounds–to see who Roger Federer would likely play against in the semifinals and finals, and how far Rafael Nadal could go in the only Grand Slam where he didn’t go past the quarterfinals until this year.

As each prospective threat to RF got eliminated, I heaved my chest for Federer who is playing for his fifth consecutive US Open title. As Nadal advanced from one round to the next, I again heaved my chest for Federer who lost his sixth Wimbledon quest to this Spaniard.

It hasn’t been an easy Open for Nadal, a three-week-old number one, as he had to face tie-break sets from Bjorn Phau in the first round and the big-serving upstart Sam Querrey in the fourth round. Nadal also had overcome four-set matches against Querrey and Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals.

The three-week-old number two Federer, after playing four easy three-set matches, found himself fighting for a quarterfinal win against Igor Andreev in five sets. It was just as well that an early morning flight kept me away from watching this match, otherwise, I would have turned stiff and blue from the thrill and suspense of the three-and-a-half-four play. RF lost the first set in a tie-break, won the second in another tie-break, won the third, lost the fourth, and finally won the fifth.

This guy, who leaves me a nervous wreck whenever he loses a set, said after the match that he found it fun to be pushed into a fifth set. Fun?! What about me?! It’s not fun for me! I get so high-strung that I could as well vibrate at every sound of the ball being hit.

And so on Saturday, or maybe Sunday morning, I will be another nervous mess when RF plays Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. This is the 21-year-old Serb he beat in the 2007 US Open in three sets with two tie-breaks and who beat him in the semifinals of the 2008 Australian Open in three sets with one tie-break.

As for Nadal, he’s going to face the unpredictable, big-serving Scot, Andy Murray. Either of them is going to be a tough opponent for RF, but first RF has to overcome Novak, the number three player in the world for over a year now.

I like Novak if he isn’t playing against Federer because he can drub Nadal in straight sets. But I know where my loyalty lies come the semifinals on Saturday or Sunday.

I am tempted to take tranquilizers.

Novak Djokovic (Photo from usopen.org)