This was not exactly the US Open men’s tennis final I had dreamed of watching when the tournament began two weeks ago when it still felt like summer in New York. Back then, I longed to see Rafael Nadal battle Roger Federer. Unfortunately, Federer fell to Novak Djokovic during a thrilling five set men’s semi-final on Saturday. Yet, I was extremely pleased with Rafa’s victorious outcome in the exciting men’s final on Monday.
I also welcomed the drama when Djokovic won the second set following the two-hour rain delay. As much as I hate rain delays, I appreciated this one since it allowed me to see most of the match live on TV after work – one of the advantages of living on the East Coast that is right up there with superiority of the New York bagel.
After losing the second set, it seemed to me that Djokovic regained some sorely needed confidence he lost after dropping the first set, but Nadal quickly transformed into the Rafa Express subjecting his opponent to punishing endurance test rallies. Rafa was practically spitting fire in his determination to win this contest. Throughout these two weeks, he came equipped with both a radically improved serve and a level of focus that was so intense he all but beat the stuffing out of Djokovic with his laser beam mind. As I watched them smash powerful backhand and forehand returns while emitting animal call-type grunts, I needed to pop an Aleve during a commercial break where Don Draper was once again hawking the gull winged Mercedes Benz.
In the fourth set, when Djokovic was down 3-1 and serving at 0-40, commentator John McEnroe wryly observed, “You have to endure the mental pain we’re watching Djokovic go through right now.” Physically, he was looking pretty spent, too. Yet, it is evident that Djokovic is an elite athlete and I agree with Rafa that Djokovic has what it takes to soon win another Grand Slam final – possibly while playing opposite Roger or Rafa.
After the match, ardent Roger fan Milton called to congratulate me on Rafa’s victory. I asked if he watched. He said that the rain delay was so prolonged he grew impatient and went to the gym, but he did catch some of the match there. He thought it was an impressive final. With Roger’s Grand Slam tennis season over for the year, I knew that Milton’s enthusiasm for this final was half-hearted. It did not take long before he changed the subject.
Milton: My brother broke my cast iron skillet.
Me: How did he do that?
Milton: I asked him that same question.
Me: What did he say?
Milton: He didn’t explain how it happened.
Me: That’s really amazing. How do you break a heavy cast iron skillet?
Milton: I don’t know. It’s not like a light bulb.
Maybe he smashed it in frustration like Djokovic did his racket? Skillet abuse, anyone?